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Guayakí Yerba Mate - A Powerful Rainforest Experience

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Kue Tuvy - The Ache Guayaki Preserve Share / Save / Bookmark Print Page

Kue Tuvy - The Ache Guayaki Preserve

Our name Guayakí honors the Aché Guayakí people, who are native to the sub-tropical rainforests of Paraguay.

We are very honored to work directly with the Ache Guayaki people in a revolutionary project – one of the first indigenously run, sustainable preserves. This project is an inspiration for other indigenous communities as they see the Ache Guayaki flourish.

As we come together to create the sacred yerba mate beverage, we find a common ground of respect and collaboration and a shared pride knowing that we are part of something revolutionary. Thanks to Kim and Magdalena Hill, American anthropologists, who lived within the community over the past 27 years, we have cultivated a close relationship with the Aché.

"Kue Tuvy" -  The Aché Guayaki Preserve
45 families

5000 hectares
of forest

16 hectares
of mate
planted below the forest canopy

First harvest,
June 2009

The Kue Tuvy Preserve borders the 150,000 acre Mbaracayu Biosphere Preserve.  The Kue Tuvy Preserve sustains 35 families of indigenous Ache Guayaki people and is protecting 12,500 acres of Interior Atlantic Forest.  The Ache Guayaki are the last hunters and gatherers remaining in the Atlantic Forest. This particular community believes in not cutting the forest down and is motivated to discover new alternative sources of income in order to keep the forest intact. We are a part of an economic alternative for the Ache Guayaki community by offering a market for sustainable management practices and certified organic products. In June of 2009, the Aché harvested their first yerba mate crop which is now for sale thru Guayaki.

Guayaki SRP, Inc. and the Kuetuvy Ache Guayaki community are now working together with the Ache chief, Margarita, to manage their first mate reforestation project. Guayaki has a vested interest in the medium to long range goals for the community to develop their own income without damaging their resources. We have an agreement to cultivate 40 acres of shade mate and then purchase the mate thus generating income for the community. Today,  we are rejoicing in a rich brew of yerba mate from those trees. Guayaki is one of the key elements in the long-term sustainability of this project.

Guayakí Yerba Mate is contributing funds and training time to the Ache Guayaki project. This includes a salary for the project manager, a part-time salary for his assistant, plus bringing members of the community to other projects to demonstrate our sustainable rainforest projects in practice. The key drivers are the Ache Guayaki themselves, which is what makes this project so (r)evolutionary.

Kim and Magdalena Hill are the conduits to the western world and Guayaki SRP, along with 5 non-profits, play important roles. Further, we have made a long-term commitment to this project that will bring additional capital to the project as we grow. This additional capital comes not only from our purchase of the yerba mate, but we have also committed $5,000 per year.  When our sales reach $10mm per year, we will pay an additional .1% of our revenues. This is considered intellectual property, but the way trademark laws are written we (or any other corporation) are NOT legally bound to license the use of their name. All of this is in addition to paying 2 to 3 times the market price for the yerba mate. The application of MARKET DRIVEN RESTORATION is that our purchases will generate between $2,500 and $7,500 per year to the community (and more when more mate is planted).

The Ache Guayaki 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 Ache 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 Ache were forced to find food elsewhere and ranchers’ cattle became prime targets. Eventually, the Ache were viewed as a menace and a massive genocide took place reducing the number of Ache to under a few hundred – mostly children. Today, the Ache Guayaki community of “Kuetuvy” (one of last 6 Ache Guayaki communities) has settled on a 12,000 acre parcel of forest granted to them by the government.

The Ache Guayaki people have a tragic history, one that is similar to many other indigenous people of South America. Many of the indigenous peoples of the world have been forced from their land, beaten, raped, killed and treated worse than animals. This familiar horrendous treatment of peoples has repeated itself throughout history. 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. The tragedy of losing an indigenous people is a sad reality as their knowledge and connection to the earth’s natural cycles will be forever lost.