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Community Fair Trade: Babassu Oil

Babassu oil is made from the nuts of wild-growing babassu palms. Women gather ripe babassu nuts in their baskets, and then break open the hard outer shells using an upturned axe and a wooden club to extract the kernels inside. They call themselves 'babassu breakers'. We use babassu oil in lots of our products, including the Spa Wisdom™ and Nutriganics™ ranges.


COPPALJ stands for the Co-operative of Agricultural Producers of Lago de Junco. We've been sourcing organic babassu oil from the co-operative since 1995, and it now has over 150 members. One of the key benefits to the co-operative's female babassu breakers has been access to a secure market and the guarantee of a fair price. "The relationship with The Body Shop has given us strength," says Yvette, a member of COPPALJ.


Life hasn't been easy for babassu farmers. Many were forced from the land in the 1960s, and the struggle for access to the babassu groves is ongoing. COPPALJ provides its members with legal advice, as well as programmes on women's rights and a credit scheme to help women achieve financial independence.



Thanks to their regular income, the co-operative's members can now send their children to secondary school. There, the children study agricultural studies as part of the curriculum. So they'll be well-prepared if they want to join the local industry when they leave school.


It's easy to see why the babassu palm is called the 'tree of life' by locals. Its fruit is used to make flour, animal feed, medicines and drinks. Its leaves are used for thatched roofing. And its seeds give the all-important oil.