Albert Gomez, Maya Nut Initiative
Albert has been traveling to Haiti for over 20 years. He was the lead coordinator of Haiti Resilience System, a public/private consortium working on resilience initiatives in Haiti since 2010. He says, “Haiti is in my heart”. He started the Maya Nut Initiative project after understanding that many of the food security, health and environmental problems that are widespread in Haiti, root back to mass deforestation of the country and water and food sources that are insufficient for a population of 10 million people.
Working with food security experts in Haiti, this project will bring the Maya Nut Tree back to Haiti to counter deforestation and the current food crisis. The Maya Nut Tree is one of the largest in the rainforest, which is why it is known as the “canopy tree”. Many of the species are drought tolerant, and can handle a variety of soil types, along with having many medicinal properties. Throughout Central America and the Caribbean, “Maya Nut” or “Bread nut” was known as a famine food by native cultures. It received its name Maya Nut, because it was they main staple food for the Mayan civilization. The seed is actually a human “super food”, loaded with protein, zinc, calcium, vitamin A, folate, and antioxidants. Even better – the roasted seed tastes like a cross between coffee and chocolate, is easy to prepare (just like coffee, tea, meal, soups, cookies, or bread), and can be stored for more than five years. The favorable taste of the dry seed has earned it the name “chokogou or Kajou” in Haiti, which means “chocolate tasting”.
After the pilot phase (which the Pollination Project is supporting), they plan to bring 1,000,000 seeds to Haiti over the next 5 years, setting up nurseries with trusted partners and distributing the trees throughout the country to develop a sustainable food source and market for Haitians.
GRANT AWARD DATE: AUGUST 10, 2013