It's a balmy day here in Asuncion, and Gustavo and I are sitting in his outdoor kitchen overlooking a verdant garden filled with lemongrass, guava trees, and other tropical delights. We're hooked up with wireless and getting ready for our presentations this week. We'll meet with representatives from Paraguay's Minister of Industry and Commerce, as well as a number of small farming groups in Itapua who are members of the Yvy Marane'y project. We've agreed to buy 15 kilos of honey and 10 of yerba mate, at fair trade prices, to bring back with us to the US as we test out that market for the many exciting products we're finding here.
This is a part of our Karu Pyahu project. Karu Pyahu means 'new food' in Guarani, one of Paraguay's two official languages. Why new food? Well, we have a vision for how to freshly approach the food and agriculture sector in Paraguay.
More on that in a bit - but in the meantime, we found the following description of our project on the Legatum Center website, which is a pretty good synopsis of what we're up to:
Team: Karu Pyahu Team Members: Shayna Harris, Gustavo Setrini Geographic Focus: Paraguay
Project: Karu Pyahu aims to tackle poverty and inequality in Peru through private enterprise by addressing the gulf between modern agro-industry, the traditional small-holder sector, and sustainable agriculture. The team will seek out partnerships for a 'mission-driven' trading company that meets growing consumer demand for diversified, high-quality Fair Trade organic goods. During IAP, the team will consult with Paraguay's successful small farmer associations, which work with 4,000 out of half a million Paraguayan campesino farmers, as well as NGOs, companies, and public-sector institutions that support their development.
The MIT Public Service Center also posted this:
Gustavo Setrini (G, Course 17), Shayna Harris (G, Course 15)
Paraguay — Gustavo and Shayna will travel to Paraguay to work with the local farming market on Fair Trade to help combat severe deforestation, biodiversity loss and small farmer dislocation. As part of this exchange, they will conduct a market visioning workshop with three producer organizations and they want to alert officials in Paraguay's public sector to the development opportunities available through Fair Trade and organic production and trade.
On our first trip together in Paraguay in 2008, at the Mbaracaju forest reserve, one of the last remaining fragments of Paraguay’s pristine Atlantic Forest