Crabwood Tree--a treasure of the forest

Kaieteur News
March 11, 2007

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North West Organics (NWO) is currently engaged in a venture to utilise one of the treasures of the forest, the Crabwood tree, which has been used for over 7,000 years by the natives to remedy ailments.

NOW, which is a geographic branding, is used to market products from user communities along the Waini River in the Shell Beach study area.

A total of 92 persons from the communities of Waini and Hosororo are involved in the harvesting and production of NWO products.

Some of NWO's merchandise utilises the Crabwood tree and includes oil and handmade soaps in addition to the trees for timber.

Additional products such as lotions and insect repellent candles from the oil will be developed.

The communities in and around the beach have limited options for income generation and thus often turn to other resources for both income and subsistence.

Profits from the sale of North West Organics have contributed significantly to community development and have led to the creation of a second oil production facility in another community.

An expansion of markets for the products will result in increased incomes as well as empowerment for both the present and additional producer communities.

By increasing revenues from non-timber forest products and providing an alternative to the unsustainable harvest of timber and wildlife, the project is expected to foster sustainable natural resource management.

Once the local market is saturated, it is expected that additional external markets can be targeted, particularly the Guyanese Diaspora in Canada , the US and Great Britain . These untapped markets represent a substantial opportunity for the promotion and further development of North West Organics products.

North West Organics continuously liaises closely with regional partners such as Village Councils of the local communities in the Waini area as well as the various management committees.

The Crabwood tree (Carapa guianensis) is a multi-purpose tree which provides medicinal oils used locally by Amerindians and older Guyanese as a massage oil. However, the potential for this ‘miracle oil' is unimaginable.

The tree also provides high quality wood which is lightweight and is used locally to make paddles and furniture; the bark possesses medicinal properties as well.

In Brazil , Crabwood oil is one of the most commercialised medicinal products and is being exported to Europe and the United States .

The oil's medicinal use includes anti inflammatory (falls), swellings, rheumatism and healing of scars.

The oil is also used as a sunburn treatment in addition to its use in the manufacture of soap at Almond Beach .

Waini residents also use the oil orally for treatment of pneumonia.

It can also be applied to wounds to increase healing time as well as minimize insects attraction to the wound.

The oil is also widely used as a moisturiser for the restoration of skin and hair.

The oil also acts as a repellent against flies and mosquitoes, in addition to diminishing the risk of inflammation from insect bites and, in some cases, of vampire bat bites.

Candles made with crabwood oil repel the mosquito that transmits dengue.

As crabwood helps to cause hair growth in animals, it can also be used for treatment of baldness.

There are two ways of extracting oil from crabwood seeds. One process used by persons in the interior is called "board oil" done in the shade. The oil extracted from this process is known as "virgin oil" and is very clean and considered the best. The other process, called "sun oil" is quicker.

The seeds are collected and then boiled in a pot until they become soft. They are then removed from the water and left in a pile on the ground covered with green leaves for 21-40 days. Afterwards, the mass is then kneaded with warm water into a dough and then placed on an aluminium sheet in the hot sun.