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ACAI Berries

Food Chain, Suriname

The ACAI berry's growing popularity within the health food industry offers great possibilites to set up sustainable cultivation of the berry.
The goldmine industry in Suriname provides an income for many inhabitants, but at the same time poses a major threat to the natural environment. Goldmining practices cause deforestation and mercury pollution of the inland rivers. Due to the use and disposal of mercury, a poisonous metallic element utilised in for instance batteries and thermometers, many fish species have disappeared in the inland rivers and the species that have survived contain dangerously high concentrations of mercury themselves. This in turn feeds through to the local people who eat this fish.    

The ACAI alternative
It is hard to internally improve an industry which is driven by a feverish lust to strike gold in the first place. That is why it might be more effective to create alternative industries instead. A promising example is the cultivation of ACAI berries, locally known as podosiri. The demand for the fruit has grown rapidly since the health food industry has discovered the wholesome effects of its high levels of anti-oxidants.

In Suriname the ACAI palm trees grow naturally, but the valuable berries are difficult to harvest. The effort to get high growing fruit from the tall trees is too great to turn the ACAI cultivation into a large profitable industry. To overcome this obstacle, recently a new kind of mini podosiri tree has been developed. The object is to create a workable and sustainable cultivation of these podosiri, to provide work and income for those otherwise being dependent on polluting industries.