• Wyss Academy

The Brazil Nut Project (2020)

“If we can identify a common thread of a shared vision, then this will work,” says Sofia Rubio, biologist and entrepreneur in Madre de Dios.

Brazil nuts grow in the wild and are a valuable source of selenium. They are in great demand both in Peru and internationally.

As the daughter of Brazil nut harvesters, Sofia Rubio has her own grove of trees and a small workshop for the preparation of food products based on Brazil nuts. The 35-year-old is also taking part in the Brazil nut project being run by the Wyss Academy in collaboration with its partner ACCA. The project brings together people involved in harvesting Brazil nuts, the transporting and processing industry, exporters and scientists.


According to Sofia Rubio, all of these actors have different interests, but one common denominator: “Without a healthy forest, there will be no Brazil nuts.”

In addition, the Brazil nut trees in the Amazon rainforest attract a variety of insects and birds, which help to foster biodiversity by spreading seeds and pollen. Moreover, the cultivation of Brazil nuts as a monoculture has not been successful. Yet, when Brazil nut trees have a connection with their surroundings and with people, they thrive.


Brazil nuts are very popular on national and international markets. As well as the unprocessed nut, which is an important source of selenium, a variety of products can be produced, including Brazil nut beer. Even the shell is used to create craft items. A number of small and large actors make up the Brazil nut value chain, though with a differing level of influence.


Our Goal

The Wyss Academy aims to establish alliances and break down detrimental power structures. And, as a result, ensure that there is social, economic and political support for more sustainable and fair value chains, including locally managed transformation processes.

Sofia Rubio comes from a family of Brazil nut harvesters. She is a biologist who is now running her own business.

Brazil nut trees grow in the rainforest. They can be harvested without destroying precious habitats.

The Wyss Academy works with ACCA in Madre de Dios. The organization also runs a research station.