A few years ago, it was seen as a very promising biofuel source. Today, coyol is a multipurpose plant with commercial potential that is about to emerge.
The coyol (Acrocomia aculeata) has exceeded the expectations of scientists. "Coyol oil, for example, is very noble," says Sergio Motoike, a biologist and professor at the Federal University of Viçosa.
"The indigenous communities already used coyol to light torches, in Ouro Preto they saw it as fuel for lamps, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and there is even a fermentation made with the stem of the plant or coyol wine"
"It can be used in human food, oleochemistry and cosmetics, industries that pay much more than biofuels," he adds.
Coyol is native to Brazil, where it is known as the most common palm tree. However, it can be found in other Latin American countries. It is between 5 and 15 meters tall, has thorns on its trunk and leaves and withstands droughts well.
Its fruit is divided into four parts: the shell, the pulp, the endocarp (the hard part that surrounds the seed) and the almond. Its pulp produces an oil recommended for the manufacture of biodiesel, biokerosene and coyol oil itself. Almost everything in this fruit is profitable.
The oil made with its almond has ideal characteristics for the manufacture of cosmetics, since it facilitates the penetration of the product into the skin.
By processing both the fruit and the peel, you get a rich protein paste that is good for feeding livestock.
The endocarp can be used to treat activated carbon, which is used as a filter to purify air and fluids.
What ecologists say about its cultivation
Asked about possible negative impacts of this crop, various sources, including some with no commercial interest in the palm, always answered that they did not see them.
However, there are ecologists who qualify the cultivation of palm trees to produce oils and other by-products can be extremely harmful to the environment.
And it is that they calculate that between 1990 and 2008, the cultivation of palm trees is responsible for around 8% of deforestation in the world.
Deforestation involves burning the forest to open the path of palm trees. This destroys the ecosystem of the place.
“The director of Acrotech, Felipe Morbi comments that his company has so far planted 520 hectares of coyol palm in the municipality of João Pinheiro, in Minas Gerais.
The company has used the coyol to reclaim degraded areas. The plant is perennial and has strong roots that prevent holes from forming in the ground. In addition, coyol creates a milder and more appropriate microclimate for the diversification of life in the soil.