Fair Trade Friends: Guayaki Yerba Mate’s Bevolution

Written by Cafe Campesino on Dec 1, 2006 in Fair Trade Friends, NEWSLETTER |
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Last March, we announced our new relationship with Guayakí and the introduction of their fabulous certified-organic, rainforest-grown Yerba Mate beverages to our product line-up. Our alliance with Guayakí continues to be particularly inspiring because of the deep commitment to sustainable trade and the vision of a better world that we share. And while Guayakí’s yerba mate drinks are a fantastic compliment to our line up of 100% Fair Trade, organic, shade grown coffees, it is their work with and respectful commitment to the Aché Guayakí people that we cherish most. Café Campesino thanks Guayakí for helping to make the promise of Fair Trade a reality… today.

Guayakí partners with small farmers and indigenous communities to source mate from the sub-tropical forests of South America. From the simple love of a beverage, Guayakí drinkers have become a driving force for conservation and community development by paying a fair trade price for rainforest-grown mate.

Guayakí creates markets for rainforest mate which provide a sustainable economic alternative to destructive income generating practices such as deforestation for lumber, cattle grazing, and monocrop agriculture. This principle of renewable resource management supported by consumers of sustainable products is called Market-Driven Restoration. Guayakí uses a triple bottom line to measure success: Economic Viability, Social Justice and Environmental Stewardship.

Their name, Guayakí, honors the Aché Guayakí people who are native to the sub-tropical rainforests of Paraguay. Guayakí’s work with the Aché Guayakí community is a revolutionary project – one of the 1st indigenously run, sustainable preserves. Guayakí SRP, Inc. and the Kuetuvy Aché Guayakí community are now working together with the Aché chief, Margarita, to manage their first mate reforestation project. Guayakí has a vested interest in the medium to long range goals for the community to develop their own income without damaging their resources. They have an agreement to cultivate 40 acres of shade mate and then purchase the mate thus generating income for the community.

The Aché Guayakí People – The Aché Guayakí once lived harmoniously in the Atlantic Forest; a region touching North Eastern Paraguay, North Eastern Argentina and Southern Eastern Brazil. Intense deforestation began in the 1970’s and the Aché were confined to smaller and smaller chunks of forest. Eventually, very little of the forest remained and food became scarce as animals habitats were destroyed. Soon, the Aché were forced to find food elsewhere and ranchers’ cattle became prime targets. Eventually, the Aché were viewed as a menace and a massive genocide took place reducing the number of Aché to under a few hundred – mostly children. Today, the Aché Guayakí community of “Kuetuvy” (one of last 6 Aché Guayakí communities) has settled on a 12,000 acre parcel of forest granted to them by the government.

The Aché Guayakí people have a tragic history, one that is similar to many other indigenous people of South America. While it is easy to find fault, it is more constructive to create positive solutions to reverse these destructive cycles and create opportunities for these peoples to find a place in the world of today, which is what Guayakí is all about.

To learn more about Guayakí visit:
www.guayaki.com

Guayakí’s yerba mate products are now available in our online store in the Teas & Chais section. Choose from a variety of Organic Packaged Guayakí Yerba Mate Tea Bags and Loose Mate, and Mate Gourds and Bombillas, artisan-crafted in the heart of South America. To learn more about preparing yerba mate drinks, visit the recipes page of our March 2006 edition of Fair Grounds.

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