An important recognition that opens the way for the product to become a PDO in Europe
Waranà from Andirá Marau, in northern Brazil, and the indigenous community that has been cultivating this liana for over two millennia, the Sateré-Mawé of the Amazonian forest, have now been awarded a Brazilian Appellation of Origin. It is the first time this important recognition, which gives products official confirmation of the link between their specific qualities and their place of origin, has been granted to an indigenous people in Brazil. What’s more, Sateré-Mawé waranà, lauded as the native guaranà, is also the first product from the Brazilian Amazon to receive the endorsement.
“Obtaining the Appellation of Origin means certifying that the product, with these specific characteristics linked to human and natural factors, exists only in this distinct geographic area,” explains Maurizio Fraboni, an Italian development socioeconomist who has been working with the Sateré-Mawé for 25 years. “In the case of the waranà, there’s more: The basin formed by the Andirá and Marau rivers is the gene bank for guaraná, the only one in the world. It’s an ecological and cultural sanctuary constructed over the course of the centuries.” The members of the indigenous community gather the seedlings that sprout from seeds fallen underneath the wild lianas and transplant them to clearings where they grow into bushes and start producing fruit.
The achievement of the Appellation of Origin is also an important success for Slow Food. “We have believed in waranà since the beginning of the 2000s,” recalls Serena Milano, general secretary of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. “In 2002 we launched a Slow Food Presidium and brought the product to Turin for that year’s Salone del Gusto.”
The Brazilian Appellation of Origin will open the door to a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO), the legal protection the European Union grants to foods whose specific quality characteristics depend essentially or exclusively on the place where they are made. For products from outside the EU, already having a local geographic indication is a necessary requirement to becoming a PDO.
What is waranà?
Though many call it “guaranà,” this plant with unusual-looking fruits (a bright red shell encasing a black seed surrounded by white flesh) is known as waranà in the Sateré-Mawé language. Guaranà is native to Andirá Marau, a chunk of land of around 8,000 square kilometers in the middle of Amazonia which is about the same size as the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. This means that the plant is indigenous here: that only here, where the local bees ensure cross-pollination between the guaranà plantations and the forest lianas, has all of the primitive genetic variety has been preserved, that this is the place that preserves its traditions.
The plant itself can grow up to 10 meters tall and its name means “the beginning of all knowledge.” For the Sateré-Mawé, a population of just 13,000 with around 200 waranà-producing families, the fruits have magical properties. The seeds, which are cooked and then grated, are used for different culinary preparations, the most famous being an energizing beverage often seen as an alternative to caffeine.
Over the last 100 years guaranà has gradually spread to other areas of Brazil, and inspired by its recent commercial success the food industry has started to push many growers in areas outside the plant’s native homeland to use cultivars obtained through cloning. “The Appellation of Origin is the recognition of a decades-long fight to defend a product that should not be reduced to a commodity,” says Fraboni.
The Appellation of Origin also validates not just the product: “It’s part of an integrated project of eco-ethnodevelopment,” he continues, “which aims to make possible what was established in the Brazilian Constitution in 1988, the ability of indigenous communities to manage their own land according to their own customs and traditions, using the biodiversity resources available to them in an ecological way. By adding value to these resources and making them a tool for economic autonomy they can also use them to guarantee political and cultural autonomy.”
Waranà, a star of Terra Madre
The announcement about Andirá Marau waranà came just a few days before the third edition of Terra Madre Brasil, the most important event organized by the Slow Food network in the country, which opened on November 17 and will continue with a series of online activities and events until November 22. Many of these will feature waranà, with the product already discussed in the webinar “Tools for Recognizing Gastronomic Heritage and Culture” on November 17 by representatives from the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, the FAO, IPHAN (the National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute) and Slow Food Brazil. Also available online since November 17 is an installment of How It’s Made, a series developed by Slow Food for Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020, dedicated to the Sateré-Mawé waraná.
And if you’re curious about trying some native waranà, powdered guarana made by Guayapi can be found on the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto online shop.
Waranà’s properties go beyond food: the Bioclin cosmetics company is now using Slow Food Presidium waranà water in one of its new haircare lines.
For more information:
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020 Press Office
Slow Food: [email protected] – Paola Nano, Gioia Baggio (+39 329 8321285)
City of Turin: [email protected] – Luisa Cicero (+39 011 01121932)
Piedmont Region: [email protected] – Donatella Actis (+39 011 4322549)
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is the most important event dedicated to good, clean and fair food and small-scale agriculture in the world. It is organized by Slow Food, the City of Turin and the Region of Piedmont in cooperation with MIPAAF (the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies) and MATTM (the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection). Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020 is made possible thanks to the support of businesses that believe in the projects. Among them, we’d like to thank our Platinum Partners: Pastificio Di Martino, Unicredit, Lavazza, Acqua S.Bernardo, Quality Beer Academy; our Gold Partners: Agugiaro&Figna, Astoria, BBBell. With the support of Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, Associazione delle fondazioni di origine bancaria del Piemonte. With the contribution of IFAD and the EU. In collaboration with SANA and Turismo Torino e Provincia.