The Argentinian experience with yerba mate in agroforestry


Authors: Luis Colcombet, Paola Gonzalez, Sara Barth, Marcelo Javier Beltran and Guillermo Arndt

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62


Language: English


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Agroforestry is able to address two of society’s great contemporary issues, climate change mitigation and food security. Characterised by the presence of trees within croplands and farmland, agroforestry has been recognised for its ability to enhance biomass and soil carbon while sustaining agricultural production. Agroforestry’s many environmental and ecosystem services - including water quality improvement, erosion control, and biodiversity enhancement - may also help achieve a number of other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including renewable energy, responsible consumption and life on land.

Yerba mate (YM) is a tree species that is native to South America, which has traditionally been harvested for its leaves, which are used to prepare a traditional infusion. Over the years, new YM products have emerged, including dehydrated powder for instant preparation. The cultivation of YM has evolved from traditional forest stands to large-scale monoculture plantations, but there is recent interest in sustainable agroforestry approaches. Research in Argentina's Misiones Province has demonstrated the benefits of YM being shaded by other trees in agroforestry systems, including increased yields of YM and an enhancement of preferred flavours of the leaves, as well as increased soil fertility, carbon sequestration and protection against extreme weather conditions. To continue to improve upon YM agroforestry, the I 049 Agroforestry project plans to study YM cultivation in agroforestry arrangements to better support sustainable agroforestry practices and innovative marketing strategies in Argentina. 

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