Developing a production and sales strategy for guayusa

Project description

Title: Developing a production and sales strategy for guayusa from the Ecuadorian Amazon Region while taking into account ecological and fair trade criteria
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ecuador
Lead executing agency: Runa LLC
Overall term: 2009 to 2011


Most people in rural Ecuador live in poverty. Many farmers rely on illegal logging or slash-and-burn to increase their income. There is a lack of environmentally-friendly farming methods that can also provide economic benefits to small farmers. Slash-and-burn and illegal logging jeopardise biodiversity in the region.

In order to improve the living conditions of the population in Pastaza Province, the members of the Amzanga Kichwa community and a team of specialists from the United States founded the Runa Foundation in 2009. The Foundation supports and cooperates with the indigenous organisations CONAKINO, CONFENAIE and OPIP as well as local administrations, such as the City of San Jacinto.

Runa LLC is a company based in the United States that specialises in the food trade. It aims to produce an aromatic drink from guayusa (a caffeinated medicinal plant) and market this in the United States. Guayusa is found almost exclusively in the provinces of Pastaza, Napo and Morona-Santiago in Ecuador.


The incomes of participating small farmers are increased by cultivating, processing and marketing the endemic plant guayusa and at the same time protecting the Amazon region’s fragile ecosystem.


The ‘Sustainable management of natural resources project (GESOREN)’ has entered into a public private partnership (PPP) with Runa LLC, a company based in the United States.

The Runa Foundation purchases the freshly harvested guayusa leaves from small farmers. Once these have been dried and processed, the Foundation sells them to Runa LLC, which has contractually guaranteed to purchase of guayusa for five years. The Foundation is to receive at least 10 % of the net proceeds from sales of the end product. It invests this capital in the preservation of indigenous traditions, agricultural improvements and the processing and marketing of the product. It is also developing and implementing a service to advise small farmers on organic cropping methods.

For the local population, the cultivation of guayusa is a viable alternative to slash-and-burn or illegal logging. Guayusa can be grown alongside a number of different crops, such as guava, cedar, ahuano (mahogany), moringa, copal and other fruit trees, which guarantees biodiversity in the regions where it is cultivated.