Farming is an important source of income for many in northeastern Paraguay, but the herb farmers and wild collectors remain economically disadvantaged. With little access to education and health care, many survive off a limited diet of mainly cassava, beans and corn. Although the farmers and collectors have created a strong, family-minded community in this corner of Paraguay, most live below the poverty line.
Organic and fair-certified crops—including farmed and wild-collected herbs used in Traditional Medicinals teas —offer a more sustainable source of income for small landowners and disenfranchised communities, and a chance to narrow the social inequity gap. Some of the best orange peel, lemongrass and lemon verbena come from a group of collectors and farmers in the region, who have met the high-quality standards for Traditional Medicinals’ herbal products, year after year. Given that their hard work is the reason so many people enjoy our teas, we are committed to supporting community development initiatives which improve their lives.
The Traditional Medicinals Foundation (TMF) sent a team of international development professionals to the region to assess the needs of the farmers, collectors and their families, and to determine the scope of potential projects. There they learned that locals have long used beekeeping as a secondary stream of income, but many rely on wild-collection to source their honey. To expand upon this income opportunity, TMF is providing beehives, along with technical training, to 100 participating families, positively impacting 600 community members. Each hive can produce three harvests per year, yielding up to 60 liters of honey!
While TMF has generated much enthusiasm for the project, a social development initiative of this kind is without precedent in the region, and there are still many unknowns. Once participating families receive their hives this fall, TMF will be working with them to track their progress, provide sales training, and help them find markets for their honey.
The herbs that these farmers and collectors harvest (orange peel, lemon verbena, and lemongrass) can be found in many Traditional Medicinals teas, including Nighty Night®, Echinacea Plus®, Hibiscus, Healthy Cycle®, Pregnancy® Tea, Green Tea with Lemongrass, and Smooth Move®.