MDP students Lillian Osborne and Maria Camila Villarraga (University of Minnesota MDP) and Melanie Aleman (Emory University MDP) participated in a summer field experience in Guatemala. UMN's Dean Current, Research Associate and Director of the Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Agricultural Management (CINRAM), was the faculty advisor for the project.Maria Camila: "The experience with the communities in el Peten, Guatemala was very fructuous. It was a learning experience that allowed us to interact with the people, to be closer to them and to get acknowledgement of their needs and their thoughts. It allowed us to get involved with community-based development."
Lily: "Working with the Rainforest Alliance, the ramón committee and my MDP colleagues this summer was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot about practical efforts to strengthen the value chain for ramón seed, and the people and communities in the Petén region of Guatemala. I really enjoyed the experience and feel very pleased with the work we able to deliver, and how it will support the future work of the committee."
Photo of Lily and Maria with the Committee on Ramón seed at the future site of a new building that will house dryers for ramón seed processing.
Mayan communities in northern Guatemala traditionally cultivated Maya Nut as a treefood
crop, a practice that is increasingly being promoted due to the food’s nutritional properties
and prospect of earning revenue for rural communities. This field experience focused on
understanding the environmental impact of Maya Nut harvest within Guatemala’s Maya
Biosphere Reserve. In partnership with Rainforest Alliance, the team studied the distribution of trees,
current harvest practices, and potential environmental impacts of future Maya Nut demand. This
work will contribute to a larger project aiming to identify and evaluate opportunities to
sustainably scale production of the Maya Nut in order to generate employment and income for