Chonta Fruit and Mayones Chonta (Bactris gasipaes Kunth) is a palm from the Arecaceae family. It is a new product that is of great importance to farmers. Its heart is harvested for the palm, and its leaves are used to paint baskets. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked, and it can be processed into flour that used in baking and making noodles, jams and jellies. The chonta fruit is one of the most nutritious natural Amazonian foods, and it is one of the most comprehensive thanks to its high content of protein, amino acids, beta carotene, phosphorous and vitamins. Besides the fruit and its leaves, chonta wood is popular with artisans, interior designers and wood carvers, thanks to its glossy black veneer tinged with white and brown tones. It is strong and very durable, often used in construction and handicrafts, among other things. Traditionally, it was used in making spears, arrows, darts, knives, machetes and blowguns, since its hardness guaranteed durability and efficiency. More famous than chonta wood is the eating of the may贸n or chontacuro (chonta worm), beetle larvae, or catzo, that lays its eggs
in the heart of these palms; when the tree is decomposing it provides a natural environment for the eggs to grow. They reach 7 cm in length by 5 cm in diameter, and they are a traditional delicacy; they are so nutritious and attract so much socioeconomic and cultural interest that they are sold alive, roasted, processed like butter or pre-packaged. The may贸n has a high content of natural fat and it is part of the diet of the Amazonian Indians. Selling skewers of roasted mayones is a profitable activity, since demand for them is widespread in the town of Francisco de Orellana. The may贸n also has medicinal properties, helping to fight malnutrition and lung disease. For these reasons, chonta is projected to become a promising agro-industry, with commercial properties that combine efficient technology with low environmental impact. Biotechnology can contribute to an increased volume of production, of both the palm trees and the beetles and their larvae.