Plant Medicine Series- 01 // Cacao from Madre de Dios

We Are Novalis speaking with Jane Quio from Boca Pariamanu (Peru).

Jane Quio is a third generation cacao farmer who started her own cacao business, Jánu Cacao, in the Boca Pariamanu region of the Peruvian Amazon. She belongs to the Amahuaca ethnic group. Juan Zuniga from We Are Novalis spoke to Jane for us, about the process of harvesting the cacao and the cultural and medicinal significance for the Amahuaca communities.

The Amahuaca or Amhuaca are indigenous peoples of the southeastern Amazon Basin in Peru and Brazil. Isolated until the 18th century, they are currently under threat from ecological devastation, disease and violence brought by oil extractors and illegal loggers.

“Our land is important because we have forest; we have rivers and lakes where we find fish, fields, where we grow cacao, bananas, yuca, coffee … we have Brazilian  nuts. The forest gives us everything.

We live happily, we do not see the possibility of leaving our community. People live happily. We live well, we understand each other, we help each other in agriculture, in the seeding of cocoa.

The Cacao is a blessing; it is good for our health, and for our economy. We have worked with her since we were kids; next to my grandparents we sowed it, I in Pucallpa, I lived in a place that was called the “Cacaoal”. Everything was natural, we never used fungicides. In the time when we produced the cacao and took it to the city, we sold it wrapped in banana leaves. Now, we use plastic containers that are not as good but it is what we have.

Cacao has many medicinal properties; it serves for the cold, the infusion of the cacao peel is good for the kidneys. It is also good for pregnant women; I remember that my grandparents gave cacao, chocolate, to women who were delayed in childbirth. Cacao accelerates the birthing process of the child, and “hurries pregnant women.”

The juice that comes out of the seeds in fermentation is also very good, when it is fresh, it is energizing, not like chuchuhuasi, but it awakens you. Now, when that juice is macerated for more than a month it is a powerful herbicide, and when it is applied to the grass, the grass disappears.”

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Banner photo – Tui Anandi