Ramón forests (called Ramonales) are of great importance for local biodiversity, providing key ecosystem services such as preserving watersheds, serving as habitat and food for local flora and fauna, and providing an essential ecosystem for resisting climate change. In addition, the seeds of these trees are a highly productive and nutritious food source for humans as well as animals due to their high levels of minerals, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, vitamins and proteins. As the nuts contain no gluten, they are a highly nutritious option for those afflicted with celiac disease. In precolombian times the Ramon Nut was a part of the daily diet, but its role in human diets has decreased since then. Just as the Ramon forests provide many environmental benefits, the harvest of their nuts is performed in harmony with their ecosystems. Rather than having to cut or burn trees, community men and women can simply harvest the nuts when they fall naturally to the ground, leaving a guaranteed percentage behind for the animals that depend on foraging them, and to ensure future generations of the tree.
Utilizing the Ramon nut generates essential income for community men and women. For example, one five-person family can collect 10 quintals of nuts a week during the harvest (the first harvest takes places from March to May, the second from September to November), generating 2,000 Guatemalan Quetzals (about 260 USD). Those who work processing the nuts into products such as cookies, flour, and hot drinks are able to earn a minimum wage salary for 8 months out of the year. The goal is to increase Ramon nut production and operate more machinery in order to generate more permanent employment within the communities.
In previous years the committee sold an average of 830 quintals of green seed, 50 quintals of flour, 30 quintals of coffee-substitute, and 100 quintals of dry seed in national and international markets (Japan and United States), generating an average income of 400-500 quetzals a year. These economic gains are generally invested in health, education, and food.
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