During last year’s harvest, Guayakí Argentina hired a new team comprised of 62% women. The mate harvest is historically done by men and women do not have equal access to work opportunities and rights. We partnered with a local organization called Asociación Victorias Misioneras, a women’s association based in Andresito, Misiones, that supports the inclusion of women at work and we were able provide fair wages to a group of 13 women and train them in the use of new electric scissors that make the harvest and pruning activities easier.
The Guardiãs da Vida (Guardians of Life) seed saving project in Brazil highlights the value of individual and collective knowledge among women from producer communities. One of the actions was to bring women from Guayakí ’s partner communities to the largest regional agrobiodiversity seed saving fair, Feira Regional de Sementes Crioulas e da Agrobiodiversidade, where they were able to share seeds of over 30 varieties of local crops of beans, maize, squashes, gourds, peanuts, rice, and sugarcane and network with members of the broader community.
In the region of the San Rafael Reserve in Itapua, we have been working with a group of 15 producers over the past three years. Forest fires in the region had affected their yerba mate plantations, crops for consumption, and their homes. In alliance with two local NGOs, Guyra Paraguay and Procosara, we supported the creation of a community forest fire brigade and equipped them with necessary uniforms and training to fight many forest fires throughout 2022 and protect their community.
A visual arts project with over 20 Kaingang children from the Marrecas Indigenous community connected youth with local artists to bring color and life to the local community school and a large mural at the Guayakí facility in Turvo, Brazil. Months in the making, students, teachers, and elders from the community started to repaint their local school and spent two days working on the mural, bringing elements of our shared nature and culture. As part of the two-day visit, children, teachers, and elders had the chance of visiting the facility and getting to know our operations first-hand, including the processing of mate arriving from their community (receiving, drying, and milling), warehousing, and laboratory.
We continue to work with the Aché Kue Tuvy community as we have for almost 20 years, supporting the growth of shade grown yerba mate systems and social projects that benefit the 80 families that live there. In 2022, we donated funds for vital improvements to their yerba mate processing facility to improve efficiency and quality standards. We also continued to fund and coordinate important social projects: clean water to all households, Montessori school for children three and four years of age, a yerba mate and native species nursery of 18,000 plants, and a mandala garden that produced three tons of different foods for community consumption.
In addition, Guayakí contracted members of the Aché Kue Tuvy community to map, outline, organize, and plant shade grown yerba mate implemented in the Mbaracayú Reserve in 2022. This provides the Aché with an alternative income stream through these professional services and also helps continue our goal of empowering the Aché to lead the implementation of sustainable production models in Paraguay.
In 2022, we purchased yerba mate from six producers of the Oñoiru Agroecological Association in the Itapúa region of Paraguay for the first time. This association, founded almost 20 years ago, began producing organic yerba mate because they believed it was the right path to prosperity in the region and maintaining the last remnants of forest. They continue with this same vision to this day, promoting sustainable agricultural practices in the region. This new agreement with Oñoiru allowed us to provide income for the association, producers, harvesters, and industry personnel.
The Fundación Agroecológica Iguazú (FAI), is a non-profit organization formed in 2010 that receives support from Guayakí and is chaired by Guayakí co-founder, Alex Pryor.
With a vision to regenerate life for the health of the planet, FAI is on a mission to educate, research, connect, and implement agroecological and regenerative systems in the Misiones Province of Argentina. FAI activities include the production of organic, fair trade, shade grown yerba mate, wildlife monitoring, educational materials and supporting local schools, and collaborations with local, regional, and global volunteers, researchers, and other visitors.
The FAI reserves are next to the biodiversity rich Iguazú National Parks in Argentina and Brazil. FAI applies agroecological practices and policies at both reserves that include soil health, biodiversity, shade grown yerba mate production, carbon sequestration, watershed protection, and education through nature-based learning experiences and workshops.
The Cereví Life Regeneration Center at FAI is a meeting place between nature and human. The objective of this sacred geometric spiral, complete with yurts along the boardwalk that winds from forest floor to the canopy, is to host and invite guests to co-participatory workshops and traditional yerba mate circles. Inspired by the cascading biodiversity deep within the South Atlantic Rainforest, the site is staged for knowledge sharing, cultural regeneration, and research.
During 2022, FAI hosted eight immersive workshops on rewilding, nature, leadership, and agroecology – all set in the heart of a native yerba mate ecosystem. Local, regional, and global participants were welcome.
In 2022, Guayakí provided funding to support numerous FAI initiatives including planting 650 yerba mate seedlings and 275 native trees, donating 2,980 native tree seedlings to neighbors, local sun-grown yerba mate producers, and other reforestation projects – more than 70% of which are used towards reforestation of sun-grown mate plantations – harvesting 7,500 kg of green leaf mate and milling 2,600 kg of canchada (dried mate), and maintaining agroecological gardens used for training, agrobiodiversity, community food donations, and on-site consumption. FAI welcomed 150 visitors and supported nature-based learning and education opportunities for students – from 9-year-olds to university level – and hosted a Regenerative Networks workshop with 50 global regenerative leaders from Argentina, Italy, South America, and Egypt, and more.