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Health Benefits of the Soursop Fruit and Leaves

Soursop grows  on a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree in the rain forests of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia and is a common food there. And here in Ecuador at the edge of the amazonas region in our organic tropical farm PermaTree. Its scientific name is Annona muricata. Also known as graviola, custard apple, guanabana and Brazilian paw paw.

Even so the English name, “soursop” is derived from the Dutch zuurzak which means “sour sack”, the soursop is a extremely tasty tropical fruit. It has flavors that are is a combination of: Strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavor notes that contrast with its creamy texture, which is similar to the flavors of coconut and banana. Here is yet another take on the flavor of soursop: It has a delicate fragrance that is tropical, fruity, musky.

 

Soursop Tropical Superfood

Superfoods have extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. Antioxidants are natural compounds found in foods that protect against the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation in our bodies. This can help us ward off diseases and live a longer, healthier life.

It is recommended that if you are not able to grow your own superfoods, be sure that when purchasing a commercially available tropical superfood, to select a organic one to get the maximum health benefits.

 

 

General Healing Benefits of Soursop?

Practitioners of herbal medicine in Asian, African and South American countries have used the bark, leaves, root, and fruits of the soursop tree to treat infections with viruses or parasites, arthritis, depression, stomach ailments, fever, parasitic infections, hypertension and rheumatism. It’s used as a sedative, as well.

But claims of the fruit’s anti-cancer properties have attracted the most attention.

 

Soursop Fights Cancer

Soursop extracts from the leaf, fruit, and seed have been tested in laboratories for their anticancer effects for the past 40 years! Much of the research on the health benefits of soursop has been carried out by institutions independent of much of the pharmaceutical industry… The results of this research is generally made available to the public.

Some studies show these extracts to be active against breast (1) (2), lung (3), colon (4), prostate (5), pancreas (6) (7), liver (8), and skin cancer (9) cell lines. However, soursop products have not been studied in cancer patients.

  • One of five extracted from the seed of the soursop fruit was “selectively cytotoxic to colon adenocarcinoma cells(HT-29)” and “10,000 times stronger” in inhibiting cancer growth than the chemotherapy drug adriamycin.(10)
  • In 1997, a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry suggested that soursop showed better results in destroying breast cancer cells than chemotherapy. Studies conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have proved soursop extract to be effective against both breast cancer and liver cancer.
  • Soursop extracts were found to kill certain types of breast and liver cancer cells (11).
  • According to one study, the soursop plant is a proven cancer remedy for most types of the disease (12). Though the tests haven’t been conducted on humans yet, the possibilities are promising.
  • In 2011, the journal Nutrition and Cancer revealed highly promising research on soursop and breast cancer. Researchers found that graviola fruit extract (GFE) suppressed expression of a breast-cancer causing oncogene known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in animal models. According to the researchers, “a 5-wk dietary treatment of GFE (200 mg/kg diet) significantly reduced the protein expression of EGFR in breast tumors by 56% … Overall, dietary GFE inhibited tumor growth, as measured by wet weight, by 32%.”
  • In another Indian study conducted on various cell lines, soursop leaves showed 80% cell inhibition. The acetogenins in soursop inhibit the harmful compounds in cancer cells (13).
  • A cell study in 1999 showed soursop had anti-prostate cancer and breast cancer activity; another 2002 cell study showed that graviola exhibited anti-hepatoma (liver cancer) activity. Studies performed at the University of Nebraska found that graviola inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
  • Soursop extract had also inhibited the survival and metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells – and this indicates potential success in curing the lethal disease (14).
  • What possibly makes acetogenins unique is their ability to selectively destroy the cancer cells, without harming the healthy ones (15).

A well-maintained diet consisting of cancer-fighting superfoods such as the soursop can actually reduce the risk of various types of cancer and can also prove to be beneficial in treatment.

 

Soursop Treats Infections

Soursop can treat infections caused by bacteria and parasites, one of those being leishmaniasis, a disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through the bites of sand fleas (16) 
The leaves of the soursop tree are also used to treat a wide range of infections (17) 

 

Soursop For Gastrointestinal Health

Soursop is also found to have antiulcer properties. The fruit suppresses oxidative damage and preserves the mucus of the gastric wall (18). The significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the soursop fruit can help improve gastrointestinal health.

In one Brazilian study, the anthelmintic (the ability to kill parasites) properties of soursop leaf extract were studied (19). They studied the effects of a parasitic worm that caused gastrointestinal issues in sheep. The objective of the study was to inspect the effects of soursop towards the eggs and adult forms of the parasite. The study concluded that soursop is a natural anthelmintic, and since it could kill the parasites in sheep that caused them gastrointestinal issues, it might have similar effects in humans. More research is going on, though.

As per another report, excessive doses of oral iron can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Though soursop is a source of iron, the mineral content in the fruit is not as much as other ingredients – hence, it is unlikely to cause gastrointestinal distress. The same fact, again, could work for the benefit of the individual. For instance, an individual suffering from iron deficiency can be susceptible to anemia, which is known to cause dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system. Though soursop is not an excellent source of iron, it does contain iron – and hence can be a healthy addition to an iron-rich diet to combat anemia (and the resultant gastrointestinal problems) (20).

 

Soursop Fight Inflammation

In a Brazilian study, inflammation caused by snakebite was found to improve with the administration of soursop leave and juice (21)  However, the components of soursop might also slightly aggravate the ill effects of snake venom – hence, we need more research in this aspect.

Research in South America and tropical Africa had emphasized on the anti-inflammatory properties of the roots, barks, and leaves of the soursop tree (22). The ability to treat inflammation is good in soursop, and it can be used for relieving arthritis.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory effect, soursop is also known for its analgesic effects(23) 

 

 

Soursop Diabetes Treatment

According to a Nigerian study, soursop possesses anti-diabetic properties. The two groups of rats tested in the study had a significant difference in their blood glucose concentrations, with the group treated by soursop having lower concentrations than the other (24).

The soursop leaf aqueous extract was found to inhibit and even prevent the hepatic oxidative damage caused in diabetes patients (25) 

 

Soursop Kidney And Liver Health

As per one Malaysian study, soursop extract was found to be safe in rats that were being treated for kidney and liver ailments (26) Similar observations could be observed in humans as well.
According to another Indian study, the acetogenins in soursop can kill the malignant cells of 12 types of cancer, with liver cancer being one of them (27).

 

Soursop For Respiratory Health

One Nigerian study states the efficacy of soursop leaves in treating respiratory conditions like asthma (28).

 

Soursop Relieves Stress

As per a report by the University of Connecticut, soursop can be used extensively for the treatment of stress and other issues like depression (29).

 

Soursop For Hypertension

Soursop has been used in folklore for treating hypertension. This can be attributed to the antioxidant potential of phenols in the fruit, according to a Nigerian study (30). As per an Indonesian study report, soursop contains good nutrients that can help lower blood pressure levels in human adults (31).

 

Soursop For Better Immune System

A Korean study states that the intake of soursop can enhance immunity. This can be attributed to the bioactive compounds in the fruit. Oral intake of soursop leaf extracts was found to reduce edema in rat paws, which is usually caused due to a weak immune system (32). The study concludes by stating that soursop leaf extract has the potential to stimulate immunity, and hence can be used in the treatment of immunocompromised patients. Soursop can also be made a part of the diet to improve the overall lifestyle quality.

The juice of the soursop fruit was found to provide more micronutrients than its pulp. But the pulp has more amount of vitamin A than the juice. Soursop is also rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that strengthens and boosts the immune system. Beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, also contributes to an enhanced immune system.

Another report published in a journal by The University of West Indies talks about a study where patients with different forms of cancer were given different foods, soursop being one of them. The objective of the experiment, as stated in the report, was to enhance the immune system of the patients (33).

 

Soursop Treats Fever

The soursop fruit has been traditionally used to treat fever. In Africa, a decoction of soursop leaves is used to control feverish symptoms and convulsive seizures. In fact, the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito (which transmit dengue fever), showed great vulnerability towards soursop extract (34).

As per an Indian study, the soursop fruit and its juice can not only treat fever, but also act as an astringent for diarrhea and dysentery (35) The fruit can help treat fever in children as well; soursop is widely used for this purpose in Africa (36).

 

Soursop Relieves Pain (Analgesic)

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, soursop can work as an analgesic. The mice used in the study were made to writhe, post which the soursop extract was induced in them. The experiment produced desirable results (37).

 

Soursop Treats Rheumatism

According to studies, the internal administration of soursop leaf decoction was found to exhibit anti-rheumatic properties. And the leaves, when cooked and topically applied, helped ease rheumatism and abscesses (38). In Africa, the unripe fruit of soursop is used to treat rheumatism and arthritic pain (39) Even the mashed leaves of the soursop tree are used as a poultice to treat rheumatism.

Soursop also contains anthocyanins, tannins, and alkaloids that exhibit anti-rheumatic effects.

 

Soursop Improves Eye Health

We have seen soursop is replete with antioxidants.

They donate electrons to free radicals, which neutralizes them and prevents them from causing harm. Bottom Line: Antioxidants are molecules that fight damage by free radicals, unstable molecules that can harm cellular structures. Antioxidants do this by giving electrons to the free radicals and neutralizing them.

These antioxidants, especially vitamins C and E, zinc, and beta-carotene, have been found to decrease the risk of eye disease. The antioxidants also reduce oxidative stress, which can otherwise cause cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (40)

 

Last week of March 2017 at PermaTree

A week in 2017 at PermaTree

So this has been an interesting week, to say the least. And on behalf of many volunteers and visitors asking what we do here at PermaTree and how a week of tropical farm work looks like, here the summary of the last week of March of the year 2017.

permatree 28march End of Another Day Walking Down to the finca

Monday 27th March

Chris finished planting 3 Bamboo “estacas” for each of the almost 1000 Guanabana fruit trees. Chris and Audrey also started to dig the entrance path for the new volunteer Bamboo structure. After that they went and started to cut off more of this awful fast growing pasture which we have here too. After dinner we did a killer yoga session.

Tuesday 28th March

It rained hard but we started the day transplanting 3 quite big coconut trees. The young helpers from the local school arrived in the afternoon and helped us a little to cut down grass with machetes. Btina found time to transplant a few vegetables to the main vegetable garden. We are preparing a second vegetable garden below the chickens because of the great chicken compost falling directly into the garden bed. Audrey and Chris found time to start building a prolongation of the existing recycled tire stairs heading to the main water tank.

Wednesday 29th March

Chris finished to dig the natural swimming pool water drainage which flows now down well. Audrey cleaned the 103 recycled tires staircase pineapple plantation from all of the growing weeds.

Thursday 30th March

In the morning we went to plant two giant Bamboo higher in the property to secure a creek which has lots water. Currently we have been able to plant 4 giant Bamboo there. It took us a while to get there. Chris and myself transporting one big Bamboo and Audrey all the tools we needed there like Machete, Gancho, Shovel etc. Getting there we noticed that the water pipe of the stream which passes under the access road was clogged so we Doug out all of the earth, sand and rocks until it was clean again.

Thursday Afternoon

In the afternoon after another success-fool-lunch we transplanted a few grown-up vetiver perennial bunchgrass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) which we had initially planted about 8 month ago. Some of this vetiver gras had grown taller than 2 meters high so it was time to split it and transplant it where it was more needed like near the natural swimming pond and on the sides of the 200m long drainage canal. After this we planted Mani aka peanut. If they grow well we can make our own peanut butter. This is a fantastic source of good fats for the diet. The more good fats the better here on the farm. After dinner we had a super tasty chicha drink – a fermented beverage derived from the fruit of the local chonta palm.

Friday 31th March

After the breakfast we harvested some of the great tasting yellow cacao which they call “Cacao Nacional” here in Ecuador. Before that we went to harvest some papayas and plantains higher up in the property. Early afternoon the first truckload of Carlos beach sand compost arrived – a total of 12 m3. The initial plan was to explore the PermaTree waterfalls before Audrey continues here travels but heavy rainfall changed this brilliant plan. We cooked some delicious home-made plain simple bread – without oven. Chris and Cunanchi digged all the 30 holes for the new maracuya-pole-plantation-structure near the 1st “plan”. Audrey and myself went to get some essential foods which run out at the farm, in Yantzaza.

Saturday 1st April

Lunch was the highlight of the whole month! Pizza “casera” all home made and naturally extremely tasty. Lucky us we got some of the tasty local cheese again – its bern a few month without since we found some of it. After our ritual super fruit breakfast we headed to Yantzaza to get a few things and drop Audrey at the terminal aka bus station. While heading home we stopped at Madras place before entering the village of Los Encuentros where we purchased 6 mid size mix race type guinea pigs with one ñapa aka gift guinea pig. They will have a key function at PermaTree – eat the grass and create fresh compost for our plant to grow happy.

 

Saturday Afternoon 1st April

The afternoon started when Carlos phoned and told us he was to be expected within 10 minutes with the 2nd truckload of Rio Zamora beach sand material for further fertilization purposes. Then Chris and myself planted another giant Bamboo at a key place between the creek and the 2nd “plan”. We fished two fruit trees which have been parked below the 1st pond due to their not so healthy looks back then – about 4 month ago, and finally  transplanted them between all the existing growing food forest. Having now the new beach sand fertilizer we started pouring some of it at every fruit tree and Bamboo.

Sunday 2nd April

We will be Market day in El Pangui because the organic produce arrives just all 14 days in Yantzaza so we go to El Pangui. Here we will pick up our new volunteer Maddie which wanted to arrive Saturday but the bus trip took something like 3 hours longer than what they forecasted so we had to adjust the planning.

Between most of those works we have had  multiple trips to Yantzaza and Los Encuentros for current projects and future projects… 🙂 our days start rather early for some nocturnal people, at 05:55 and normally we are back sleeping at 21:00 o clock. Good sleep is as essential like good food for a good farm work day. Speaking climate wise we had more rain than usual because we are currently in the rainy season now.

 

Tropical Fruits of Ecuador

If you also embrace diversity and a healthy living then you might be interested into the so called tropical fruits or exotic fruits of this planet. Here in Ecuador the different micro-climates provide a fantastic environment for most of the tropical fruits, to grow very well.

tropical-fruits-ecuador

Our goal with finca PermaTree here within the amazon region of Ecuador, is to grow all of the existing exotic fruits of the planet in one place. Just because we can. And maybe because we the humans are ending natural diversity and this is a growing future issue for the next generations on the planet. We are not here to save the planet or whatever. The planet does not need us. We the planet earth. Back to the tropical fruits a quick overview of the exotic stars within all of them:

  • Annona muricata, Guanábana (Soursop)
  • Artocarpus heterophyllus, Jackfruit (Jackfruit)
  • Vasconcellea × heilbornii, Babaco (Mountain Papaya)
  • Artocarpus altilis, Fruti Pan (Breadfruit)
  • Passiflora edulis, Granadilla (Passionfruit) …
  • Stenocereus/Hylocereus, Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)
  • Annona cherimoya, Cherimoya (Custard Apple)
  • Nahuatl tzapotl, Sapote
  • Alibertia patinoi, Borojo

Additionally many other tropical fruits from Asia also do grow very well in Ecuador such as the Durio zibethinus, Durian fruit tree.

Fruits and vegetables which are growing now at PermaTree ?

Depending on the season you an find: papayas, bananas, plantain, cacao, ice cream bean, sugar cane, pineapple, guava, lemons, guayusa, hierba luisa (lemon grass type), cassava (yuca), wild cherry tomatoes, corn, rosemary, basil, thine, aloe vera, vetiver, neem, noni, naranjilla, zapote and we have been planting guanábanas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruits, chirimoya, coconuts, strawberry, maracuya, breadfruit, bamboo (bamboo shoots), macadamia, peach palm (contact), soursop, jackfruit, star fruit and dragon fruit.
Check out our fruit of Ecuador poster here on issuu or visual.ly
https://issuu.com/permatree/docs/fruits_ecuador
and
https://visual.ly/tropical-fruits-ecuador

Found a property in Ecuador!

After a literally long and intense exploration and research during more than 600 days (2 years)! Which we started in Paraguay back in 2014 and then went to Bolivia. From there to Colombia where we finally decided to explore Ecuador.

property exploration1 PermaTree Property Hike property exploration2 property exploration4

We are very proud and happy and thankful to announce that we finally found and bought a property in Ecuador, South America to start with our vision for PermaTree. And so exited of course! Finally!!! 🙂

Honestly the last few month have been exhausting. Property purchase negotiations have been never-ending. For the first few months in Ecuador we had no own car and where renting one or driving with the taxi around witch was a bit of struggle. It was very challenging to find some decent renting place in the region. They have attempted to break-in twice into the house we are renting. Our legal 6-Month-Tourist-VISA was running out of time. Parts of our material is still stuck in Bolivia since 11 month now. The postal service in Ecuador is rather experimental there are no postal codes in use and no street numbers … we are waiting for official documents from Switzerland since now 7 weeks and nobody knows where it is and if or when it will arrive.

Once again we very lucky to have found fantastic new friends in the local community which have been supporting us. Thank you to our friends from the coast Lida y la familia Mieles (Quinta Guadalupana), Piet Sabbe (Bosque de Bambu), Peter from Terra Frutis (vegan community not far from us in Gualaquiza) and Etelvina, Henry, Don Rey, Lorena, “los amigos” and Max (the dog) from beautiful El Pangui and Loja region.
As always: “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

Property Facts

Our little permaculture farm in Ecuador – We where searching for min. 50 to max. 200 Has and found 76 Has matching to all the other search criteria. It takes about 3 hours to walk around the property. It starts at 800 meters above the sea level and ends at about 1300! It’s located at the edge of the Sierra (Andes mountain range which stretch 1800 kilometers from north to south, along the west coast of the continent) and the Oriente (Amazonas region) in Ecuador. So the property is part of the Andes mountain range  and part of the Amazon River Basin which covers a total covers an area of about 7,500,000 km2 or roughly 40% of the South American continent.

PermaTree overview_property_76has

There is one bigger creek and about 4 water streams (ojos de agua) which start within the property like the bigger creek. So there should be no water quality issues. There is at least one waterfall of a few meters – we need to explore this a bit better. Currently there are no roads on the property itself. The access to the property is directly from the newly build highway traveling north to south Amazon Road (E45) “Troncal Amazónica”. From Quito its about 8.5 hours straight driving in a car. There are may public buses which travel from all the directions to there but they take more time because they stop very often normally. There are daily flights from Quito to Cuenca and from Cuenca its about 3-4 hours straight without the finalized road which is still being build right now as we speak. There are also airports near Yantzaza and Gualaquiza which have flights to Puyo. Alternative would be by boat via the river Zamora but we haven’t tried that option yet.

Our Main Focus with PermaTree:

  • Researching and implementing sustainable lifestyles
  • Food forest – A permaculture forest garden mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural plant/animal community that occurs in that climate. Food forests are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity
  • Seed bank – seed exchange
  • Collaborative Community – Language and sustainable living exchange
  • Conservation – All the current left over forest areas will be from now on nature reserve
  • Analog Reforestation – re-vegetating depleted soil with flora that mimic the role of original native species to bring back natural vs. anthropogenic harmony
  • Transparency  – Open information / Open source – share information

Soil Type

The property has been used for more than 10 years for almost pure growing cows from pasture. The pasture soil is degraded after years of pasture only for cows and more than enough use of agrochemical POISON (multinationals Monsanto / Syngenta) to kill all the other kinds of natural “weed” / plants etc … Currently no signs of soil erosion which is good enough other issues.

The soil type is very diverse because of all the micro climates depending of the altitude within the property.

Our focus with PermaTree is to regenerate the soil:

  • Harvesting worm compost to create new rich soil with earth worms
  • Secure water – with Bamboo reduces rain run-off and downstream flooding and retains water within the watershed

Climate: Tropical

The PermaTree property is located between Yantzaza and El Pangui in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador. This region has a tropical climate. There is significant rainfall. Even in the driest month there is a lot of rain. This climate is considered to be Af according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. The average annual temperature in Yantzaza is 22.7 °C. Precipitation here averages 1959 mm.

Climate Table Annual Temperature

Climate Graph Annual Rainfall
Source: http://en.climate-data.org/location/25493/

 

Existing Fruit Trees and Edible Plants

A good indicator of the soil is that currently there are about 25 to 50 fruit trees and edible plants on the property: Cacao, Sweet Lemon, Lemon, yellow and red Bananas, Platano, Yuca, Guayabana, Guaba, Mango, Sugarcane, Chonta palms, Papaya, Corn, Coffee and Naranjilla also called “little orange” etc.

 

Planed Food Forest

For our planned food forest we are also ready to start to plant many Coconut palms, Avocados, Orange, Lemon, Lime, Pomelo (Grapefruit), Durian, Zapote, Pineapple, Moringa, Katuk, Tobacco, Aloe, Tumeric, Ginger, Lemongrass, Laurel, Pumpkin (grow like crazy), Higo, Frijoles y Porotos (beans), wild cherry Tomatos and Babaco which is a “Mountain Papaya”, Mangosteen, Jackfruit, Snakefruit, Bolivian cherimoya, Artocarpus odoratissimus (fruta de pan), Surinam cherry, max. different Banana diversity and many many more.

🙂

Coconut Palms

We have been told by the previous owners that the property had coconut palms but did not plant any and so the existing ones just died. The neighbors have plenty of coconut palms so this will be one of the first task we are going to do is to plant about 50 coconut palms which already have a height of about 1 meter today. Back in Bolivia a landlocked country located 3000km further south we saw many coconut palm trees and since then we decided that we want to plant as many as possible on the PermaTree property.

 

Native Seed Hunt In Ecuador

One of the biggest challenges here in Ecuador is the hunt for native seeds. Believe me it’s not easy. I have been seed hunting in Gualaquiza, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Quito and Ibarra. It’s almost hilarious that the agrochemical multinationals also sell GMO seeds and those are the most common used…  🙁

Red De Guardianes De Semillas ecuador

It’s not all lost yet but you have to hunt for the local organic seeds. We discovered in Quito the very well organized Seed Saver Network (RGS – La Red de Guardianes de Semillas del Ecuador) which sells and exchanges local organic seeds. They are a Non-Profit Organization, established in November 2002. Currently there are more than 300 members in the RGS network which share their seeds. RGS also trains farmers to save seeds, providing a national platform for seed preservation, creating an effective network between campesinos and educating activists nationwide to conserve biodiversity and promote food sovereign.

Happy us. Another great source for tropical / exotical fruit seed in Ecuador is the Guaycuyacu farm of Jim West there is a great article about them here on issuu. Thanks to Piet Sabbe from Bosque de Bambu for indicating great local bamboo sources. Soon we are going with a friend to visit some different Shuar communities in the depth of the Amazonas region which could help us to find some more native seeds which the Colonos (local colonists) do not use any more.

 

Forest

There is sadly zero “primary forest” left. Primary forest refers to untouched, pristine forest that exists in its original condition. This forest has been relatively unaffected by human activities. In Ecuador there is VERY little primary forest left. On our property there is NONE left. Neither is there secondary forest. Most likely the remaining forests of the PermaTree property are third-growth. They remaining forest cover, is located mainly at inaccessible areas.

wwf_map_of_deforestation_front

WWF has drawn on projections in the Living Forests Model, a major literature survey and interviews with dozens of experts around the world to identify 11 places with major deforestation fronts, highlighted in this map. These places are where the bulk of global deforestation is projected to take take place over the two decades, from 2010 to 2030.

amazon-rainforest-map-2013

Ecuador, is a relatively small country with the total size of 270’000 km2, had historically 132’000 km2 of pure jungle. While blessed with one of the highest biodiversity indices, Ecuador also has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation estimated at over 300’000 hectares (3%) per year. 

yago deforestation ecuador

Only about 5% remain of the rich forests of the coastal region, most of which have been destroyed in the last 50 years by mining, logging, agroindustrial monocultures (banana, cacao, coffee, African palm) and colonization. According to Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry, 65’880 hectares of land are deforested in the country each year. The country’s illegal timber trade is worth around 100 million dollars, and represents up to 70% of wood transported out Ecuador’s remaining rainforest.

btina deforestation ecuador

According to satellite imagery analyzed by the watchdog group IMAZON, Amazon deforestation in 2014 and into the beginning of 2015 had more than doubled compared with the same time period a year earlier.

A interesting historical detail here is that the single largest contributor to deforestation in Ecuador were the Agrarian Reform Laws (1964, 1972) which promoted the colonization of “vacant” (forest) land as the solution to relieve social pressures caused by inequitable (feudal) land distribution, while expanding the agricultural frontier and subsidizing the growth of export-oriented industrial agriculture. The “Green Revolution” (GR) was included in the Agrarian Reform package which the U.S. government sponsored throughout Latin America as part of the “Alliance for Progress” in the 1960’s.
Source: Causes and consequences of deforestation in Ecuador

 

Wildlife / Biodiversity

Ecuador is a country with a varied terrain resulting in a variety of habitats for animal life. Ecuador’s birdwatching is legendary. In the entire country of Ecuador, there are an estimated 1600 species of birds. In the Ecuadorian Amazon region, you will find: 800 species of fish, including three sorts of piranhas, 350 Species of reptiles, including anacondas and iguanas, more than 300 species of mammals, including monkeys and jaguars. Thousands of species of plants and trees. Thousands of species of insects: one acre of rainforest may be home to 70,000 species of insect!

Although in theory Ecuador has one of the highest biodiversity indices in reality so far we saw a one white rabbit! And many types of birds of which some are yellow and blue and other Eagle / mice buzzards. Many insects apart from the Mosquitoes, Ants, Worms, Dasypus “armadillo”. We need to explore much more the existing wildlife.

One explication for this situation is that Ecuador has been buildings lots of excellent roads even into the amazon basin. The building of oil roads into the Amazon has led to unsustainable indigenous hunting, fed an illegal bushmeat market, possibly facilitated the pet trade, and is emptying rainforests of wildlife.
Source: mongabay

 

Water

“Water is the new oil” quote T. Boone Pickens. The Global Economic Forum identifies water crises as the third most serious risk the world faces in 2014. In just a few years from now in 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, and 2/3 of the world will be living under water-stressed conditions!

projected water scarcity in 2025
Source: FEW

Multinationals like Nestle (Switzerland) and Coca Cola (USA) know this since a while and have been buying up all water sources on the entire globe. So don’t forget if possible to boycott companies like Nestlé and Coca-Cola! It’s the best thing you can do for yourself anyway. You health and your teeth will improve shorty after stopping to consume that kind of commercial poison.

yago water ecuador

Knowing that water is today and even more in future a serious key factor for survival we have had a strong focus on having enough water but not too much. This may sounds funny but we have been in places where there was no water and in other places where there was so much water that almost nothing grew because of to much water. So here again it’s all about finding a harmony.

waterfall btina 2016 ecuador

This is why we focused our search in Ecuador and specifically in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe. The climate is almost perfect; not to fresh during night, good sun during the day but also clouds and some hours of rain (check the climate info). So a little of everything it’s hot but not to hot like in Paraguay with 49 degrees Celsius. It’s fresh but not so fresh like in Bogota where after every visit I have a slight cold.  There are also less inhabitants in Zamora-Chinchipe. No serious worries compared to the coastal region of Ecuador where the food is great but there is increasing insecurity and locals tend to move to other regions if they can which is a good indicator.

 

Bamboo

There is already some yellow bamboo by the stream. We plan to plant a lot of different bamboo types along the river on a total distance of about 1000 meters or more.

Green Bamboo Leafs

Most varieties grow about 5 cm a day, and will reach their full height within one growing season. Certain species of bamboo can grow 90 cm within one day, at a rate of 3 cm/h!

Did you know that Bamboo produces 35% more Oxygen than Trees?

Unlike most tree species, harvesting bamboo does not kill the plant, so topsoil erosion and other adverse effects of tree-felling are kept to a minimum.

 

 

 

 

The plant nursery

Arriving in El Pangui canton Zamora Chinchipe we have lost no time and started right away with a plant nursery (A nursery is a place where plants are propagated and grown to usable size). Our food forest plant-wish-list is growing (see the list below. Currently about 147 different names… Most of them are of course fruit plants but many vegetables and of many herbs. Also so called “árboles maderables” aka timber trees. We are focusing on local plants but are also taking advantage of the tropical climate to grow and plant bamboo and all the known tropical plants here. One of the more challenging task here has been to get the seeds! Its crazy most people dont grow anything. The best way is buying the fruit / vegetable and planting it later directly.

Photos from the plant nursery

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Plants we already have in the nursery

Tomatoes
Avocados
Figs
Pimiento
Mango
Papaya
Lime
Madarin
Orange
Jinjibre – Ginger
Tumeric
Coco palms
Pumpkin
Carrots
Chili
Cacao
Tobacco plant
Hierba Luisa Grass
Geranium
Tutuma / Bototo
Garlic – Ajo
Cabagge – Cool
Elder
Balm
Red “Grayseed”
Chia
Cucumbre – Cucumber
Peas
Cedron
Pineapple
Basil
Onion
Jarasillo – timber tree
Sabila
Pulmera Euterpe

 

Food forest wish-list

// FRUITS – Frutas
Annona (Annonaceae)
Araza – Arazá (Eugenia stipitata)
Banana – Guineo (Musa × paradisiaca)
Red dacca banana – Guineo moreno (Musa acuminata (AAA Group) ‘Red Dacca’.)
Cacao – Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
Lemon – Limon (Citrus × limon)
Lime? – Limoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatus)
Lulo – Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)
Grapefruit – Pomelo (Citrus x paradisi)
Tree Tomato / Tamarillo – Tomate de árbol (Solanum betaceum, Syn. Cyphomandra betacea)
Borojo – borojó (Borojoa patinoi)
Papaya – Mamon (Carica papaya)
Mountain Papaya – Babaco (Vasconcellea x heilbornii; sin. Carica pentagona)
Passion fruit – Maracuyá (Passiflora edulis)
Jackfruit – árbol de jaca / yaca o panapén (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
Soursop – Guanábana (Annona muricata)
Chirimuya – Chirimoya (Annona cherimola)
Durian – durián (Durio zibethinus)
Sweet granadilla or grenadia – Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis)
Abiu – Caimito (Pouteria caimito)
Noni – gunábana cimarrona, fruta del diablo (Morinda citrifolia)
Peach – Melocoton (Prunus persica)
Pineapple – Piña (Ananas comosus)
Pitahaya – pitahaya (Cactus fruit)
Purple mangosteen – (Garcinia mangostana)
Rhubarb – Ruibarbo (Rheum rhabarbarum)
Grape – Uva (Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera)
Star fruit – Carambola (Averrhoa carambola)
Mango / melocotón de los trópicos (Mangifera indica)
Orange – Naranja (Citrus x sinensis)
Salak – Snakefruit (Salacca zalacca)
Peruvian cherry – Uchuva (Physalis peruviana)
Pumpkin – Zapallo / Calabaza (Cucurbita pepo)
Sapote – Zapote (tzapotl)

// VEGETABLES – Verduras
Avocado – Aguacate, Palta (Persea americana)
Beans – Frijoles y Porotos (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Carrot – Zanahoria (Daucus carota)
Chia (Salvia hispanica)
Cabbage – Col, Repollo (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Corn – Mais / Choclo (Maize)
Onion – Cebolla (Allium cepa)
Garlic – Ajo (Allium)
Ginger – Jengibre (Zingiber officinale)
Potatoes – papa o patata (Solanum tuberosum)
Pepper – pimiento (Capsicum annum)
Pumpkin – Calabaza gigante (Cucurbita pepo)
West Indian pumpkin – Calabaza (Cucurbita moschata)
Tomatos – Tomate (Solanum lycopersicum)
Tiny tomato – Tomate de selva – (Lycopersicon esculentum)
Tumeric – Cúrcuma (Curcuma zedoaria)
Radishes – Rábanos (Raphanus sativus)
Quinoa – Quinua (Chenopodium quinoa)
Yuca – Manioc (Manihot esculenta)
Zucchini – calabacín (Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo convar. giromontiina)
Spinach – Espinacas (Spinacia oleracea)
Fennel – Hinojo (Foeniculum vulgare)
Chili pepper – Chile / Pimiento / ají (Capsicum)

// HERBS – Hierbas
Basil – Basilikum – Albahaca (Ocimum basilicum)
Caña de azúcar – Saccharum officinarum
Lemongrass – Hierbaluisa (Cymbopogon)
Vanilla – Vainilla (Vanilla planifolia)
Aloe Vera – Sábila / Alóe (Aloe)
Camille – Manzanilla (Chamaemelum nobile)
Peppermint – Menta (Mentha × piperita, also known as M. balsamea Willd)
Oregano – orégano (Origanum vulgare)
Rosemary – Romero (Rosmarinus)
Lavender – Lavanda (Lavandula angustifolia)
Maggy herb – Levístico o hierba maggi (Levisticum officinale)
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
Coffee – Cafe
Tea – Tee
Coca (Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense) the legal version.
Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
Cannabis / Marihuana (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis sativa forma indica, Cannabis ruderalis) the legal version.
Cha / Cháhuā – planta de té (Camellia sinensis)

// TREE
Canela – Árbol de la canela (Cinnamomum verum)
Tutuma – Bototo (Ecuador) – “Calabash Tree” (Crescentia cujete)
Baobab (Adansonia digitata) Africa
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) Africa
Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Cedar – Cedro (Cedrus libani )
Cockspur coral tree – Ceibo (Erythrina crista-galli)
Guayacay – guayaco (Guaiacum officinale)
Erythrina – El árbol del porotillo (Erythrina velutina)
Quickstick – mata ratón / madre cacao (Gliricidia sepium)
Ischnosiphon – Guarumo, casupo o tirite (Ischnosiphon arouma)
Saman – Samanea saman, samán, tamarindo (Albizia saman)
Rubber tree – árbol del caoutchouc (Hevea brasiliensis)
Balsa – Arbol de Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale)
Sauce – Salix (Salix caprea)
Podocarpus – Intimpa (Podocarpus glomeratus)
Sangre de drago
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens)
Sangre de drago (racaena drace)
Forestiera – Forestiera ecuadorensis (Oleaceae)
Olive – árboles de olivo negro (Olea europaea)
Teak – Teca (Tectona grandis)
Vegetable ivory – Tagua palma (Phytelephas macrocarpa)
Guayacán, madera negra (Tabebuia bilbergii)
Amarillo (Centrolubium Ochroxilmi)
Brazilian fern tree – Pachaco / guapuruvú (Schizolubium parabybon)
white teak – Melina / gamhar (Gmelina arborea)
Balsa – Ochroma lagopus — Sierra humedo tropical, 5nos
Seique / Tornillo (Cedrelinga cateniformis)
Cutanga – Parkia multijuga— Bosque montanoso seco
Guarango – Parkia nitida — Bosque montanose seco
Jacaranda – Jacaranda capais — Bosque montanose seco
Mani de arbol – Cariodendrum orinosesis — Oriente, bosque muy humedo tropical
Pigue – Pollalista kaustenil — Oriente, bosque muy humedo tropical
Sangre de Drago – Crotom s.p — Oriente, bosque muy humedo tropical
Balsa – Ochroma lagopus — Sierra humedo tropical, 5nos
Laurel – Cordial alliodora — Sierra, bosque humedo tropical, 18anos
Caoba – Swintenia macrophylla — Costa, bosque seco, 25anos
Causarina – Causarina eguisetifolia — Costa, bosque seco, 25anos
Flanboyan – Delonix regia — Costa, bosque seco
Guapan – Minguaitin guianensis — Costa, bosque seco
Leucaena – Leucaena leucocephala — Costa, bosque seco
Acacia fistula – Clarisla recemosa
Algarrobo – Prosopis inemis
Nin – Azadirechte indica

// NUTS – Nueces/Nuts
Coconut – Coco
Brazil nut – nuez amazónica (Bertholletia excelsa)
Chontaduro (nut)
Inca-peanut – maní del Inca / maní jíbaro (Plukenetia volubilis)

 

and more …