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Defending Biodiversity


Umbu Presidium, Brazil

The umbu fruit is native to northeast Brazil, where it grows in the Caatinga, the typical scrub of the dry lands of the sertão. The name comes from the indigenous Tupi Guaraní phrase y-mb-u, which means "tree that gives drink." The tree has umbrella-like foliage and fruits once a year, producing up to 300 kilos of umbu when it reaches maturity. Due to its root system, a great network of tubers which can store up to 3,000 liters of water during the rainy season, it can survive even the driest periods. This makes
it an important resource in one of Brazil's poorest and most arid regions where the local agriculture, based on corn, beans, manioc and free-ranging sheep, is at risk from severe cyclical droughts. The umbu fruit is picked by hand and collected in bags and buckets. The round fruit can be as small as a cherry or as big as a lemon.


The skin is smooth and green or yellow when the fruit is ripe, and the juicy, aromatic, sweet-tart flesh surrounds a large pit. Umbu can be eaten fresh or made into many types of preserves. Traditionally it is cooked down until the skin separates from the fruit. The liquid is then poured off, mixed with cane sugar and cooked for another two hours to make a delicious jelly. Or the pulp can be cooked for a long time with sugar until it becomes a thick, slightly tart paste, similar to the Spanish membrillo. Umbu can also be made into juice, vinagre (made from cooking overripe fruit), marmelada (umbu slowly cooked with sugar) or umbu em calda, a simple compote made by putting whole fruit in jars with sugar syrup. The fresh pulp or, when the fruit is out of season, vinagre, is mixed with milk and sugar to make the traditional umbuzada, an energy-rich drink that can replace the evening meal.


The COOPERCUC cooperative, which makes artisanal umbu products without any artificial flavorings or preservatives, was founded in 2003. With support from the Slow Food and the NGO Horizon 3000, 10 workshops were opened in 2006, and there are now 13 in total. In these workshops, the fruit can undergo an initial processing before being delivered to the cooperative. The Presidium has drawn up a production protocol to guarantee the artisanal quality of the products and is working to promote them locally, nationally and internationally. Every year, the cooperative organizes an umbu festival, an important event to promote the fruit, which is a symbol of the local area and culture. The festival includes umbu cooking demonstrations, traditional dances and the sale of local crafts.



  • support part of the costs for the 2013 umbu festival
  • produce and distribute communication material to promote the product on the local, national and international market


Production area
Canudos, Curaçà e Uauà municipalities, Bahia state, Northeast region


144 pickers and producers
Producers' families (around 700 people)


Total estimated costs


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Umbu Presidium, Brazil
Umbu Presidium, Brazil
Umbu Presidium, Brazil

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