Guayusa-farmer Manuel Narvaez Andy, his wife Esthella and their four young boys live in the Kichwa community of Mushullakta, Napo-province.
“We have been selling guayusa for five years now”, Manuel reveals. “Last year, Esthella and I sold 400 pounds of fresh leaves to RunaTarpuna”.
Manuel and Esthella own a chakra of 30 hectares. Apart from their 6,500 trees of guayusa, they grow a large variety of different plants in their agroforestry system, including chonta, yuca, plantain, cacao and papaya. Nevertheless, apart from modest amounts of cacao beans they sell in Archidona, a town 2 hours from their community, guayusa is the only plant they sell for income.
“Most of the plants we grow are only for our own consumption. Gaining access to markets of other crops is impossible from here.”
Maintaining 6,500 guayusa trees definitely sounds like a lot of work. However, in 2016 the family spent 2 days harvesting guayusa-leaves. “Other than harvesting the leaves, guayusa-trees do not require any attention.” Esthella explains. That said, trees in agroforestry systems do grow in their natural habitat, with all the nutrients and conditions needed to survive without the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
The family uses the income earned from guayusa to pay for the education of their children.
ASACAPUM, the guayusa producer association Manuel and Esthella belong to, has used their Fair Trade social premium fund to create a rotating community fund. This way producers are able to apply for small loans to plant guayusa and create income for themselves. Manuel sees this as a way to use the social premium fund that benefits everyone in the community.
Any plans for the future?
“I’m hoping to plant more guayusa trees”, Manuel states wishfully. “And it would be great to be able to sell other products from our chakra as well.”