Once a staple food crop of the ancient Maya civilization, ramón is the seed of a neotropical canopy tree called Brosimum alicastrum. The seed is packed with nutrients including fiber, calcium, potassium, folic acid, iron, zinc, protein, and Vitamin B. Most commonly, ramón seeds are dried, roasted and ground and then used as a gluten-free flour complement in baked goods or as a caffeine-free coffee alternative. Since 2011, the University of Minnesota has been researching ramón seed’s viability as a market-based solution to promote conservation in the community forestry concessions of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala. This ongoing research collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance is a part of the Climate, Nature, and Communities in Guatemala (CNCG) program.
Ramón Research Opportunities
Ramón-related collaborations with the Rainforest Alliance offer a variety of unique research opportunities.
- Value chain analysis
- Market development
- Food science and nutrition
- Economic and financial analysis
- Marketing and public relations
- Neotropical ecology
Descriptions and links to past students’ ramón projects are included below.
- In 2013, UMN students and researchers carried out a complete value chain analysis of ramón. Find the 2013 final report here (PDF) .
- In 2016, a group of Master's of Development Practice (MDP) students travelled to Guatemala. Their ramón-related work encompassed a range of topics including an updated value chain analysis, a financial analysis of ramón bakers, and a synthesis of research related to ramón’s nutritional attributes. Find the 2016 final report here (PDF).
- In 2017, a second group of MDP students travelled to Guatemala. They conducted interviews with ramón harvesters, performed a market analysis, and developed a cost analysis toolkit and marketing materials for ramón producers. Find the 2017 final report here (PDF).
- In 2018, UMN researchers explored potential market pathways for ramón in the U.S. health food market. The study employed a variety of methods including interviews with health food market stakeholders, preliminary price evaluations, and UMN research collaborations. Find the 2018 final report here (PDF).
- In the Spring of 2021, a group of MDP students and a NRSM student worked with Rainforest Alliance and ACOFOP to develop a website to highlight the products and stories from the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala. Find the 2021 final report here (PDF).
- In the Summer of 2021, a group of MDP students travelled to Flores, Guatemala. They developed a export-readiness assessment for ramón seed in the Maya Biosphere Reserve to optimize export capacity and enable resilient livelihoods. Find the 2021 final report here (PDF).
- In 2022, a master's student in NRSM and an undergraduate student in Applied Economics developed an analysis of the company’s mission statements and interviews for the development of Non-Timber Forest Products in the United States market. Find the 2022 final report here (PDF).
Brochures and pamphlets outlining the story and benefits of ramón are linked below