Babassu Soap - Brazil, Lago do Junco, in Maranhão state, Brazil

Name: Babassu Soap
Producer organization: Association of the Women Rural Workers from Lago do Junco and Lago dos Rodrigues (AMTR) and Association in Settlement Areas from the Maranhão State (ASSEMA)
Product location: Maranhão, Brazil.
Global distribution: The transition between the Cerrado and the Amazon.
Name of species and ecosystem: Mainly Attalea phalerata and Attalea speciosa.
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Additional information about Babassu Soap

The babassu palm occurs in extensive areas of Brazilian territory in the transition between the Cerrado biome and the Amazon in a strip of approximately 18,5 million hectares. The babassu is one of the most valuable non-timber forest products in Brazil, generating income for at least 400 thousand babassu crackers, mainly women, according to the Ministry of Environment. The oil extracted from the nuts has 68 different industrial applications, the babassu soap is one of them. Because of this, the babassu crackers fight to conserve this priceless value palm, conserving the natural vegetation and transforming it into a wide array of products offered to the market. The AMTR, a local association which produces the babassu soap, was created as a resistance against the farmers who wanted to make private use of babassu forest, cutting them and fencing their lands to avoid wild collection. The fight of the babassu crackers associations, highlighting the Interstate Babassu Crackers Movement (MIQCB), resulted in the Law of Free Babassu, which ensures the free access of babassu crackers to the resource, including to those areas inside private properties. Beyond this, the law prohibits the cut of the palms. In 2012, there were 16 laws of municipal range regarding free Babassu assess, thus, it was launched the Law Project 231/2007, which is being discussed in the National Congress, to expand the range of the laws into national.

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