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A more long-term project

The medicinal plant garden project in Paraguay involves three groups of villagers from Santa Maria de Fe, San Patricio and Santa Rosa. They don’t need much to transform their community and non-cash-based economy into a cash and solidarity-based economy. We are counting on you to help get their projects off the ground.

As mentioned during the meeting of the Educational Network of the Compagnie de Marie Notre Dame (Company of Mary Our Lady) in Narbonne, we went to Paraguay with Marie Chantal Duvault to find out more about the project to create gardens for medicinal plants.

 

Paraguay has the perfect land for growing medicinal plants. The tropical and subtropical climate is hot and humid most of the year, with temperatures varying between 12° and 35°, making this type of farming possible. In addition, the country has a unique, diverse variety of plants (around 700 species).

 

                                       

 

This project, supported by the community of Sisters in Santa Maria de Fe, involves 3 groups of villagers from the villages of San Maria de Fe, San Patricio and Santa Rosa. These groups now operate autonomously.

 The start of the meeting... 

 

The group of farmers from Santa Maria de Fe includes some fifteen people, including many young people. It functions very well and could serve as an example for the other gardens. In addition to the group work carried out twice a week, the group holds two types of meetings: the farmers meet once a month for evangelical worship and once a month they discuss their working methods. Personal growth and spiritual progress go hand in hand with economic progress..

 

   .        herbarium                                         distillates

They not only grow medicinal plants; they also make distillates and creams from their crops. These are then sold by each member to their families and friends or at small markets. Currently they do not have access to an official distribution network.

  

In order for this community effort to provide extra income for each member of the group, the production and sale of crops must be expanded. This would require the Health Ministry’s approval for certain products. The first administrative formalities were completed a few years ago, but since then no progress has been made as the farmers were unable to afford the financial investment required to obtain approval. And yet, without even seeking to sell their produce abroad via a fair-trade scheme, simply selling products in Paraguay through networks of pharmacies or over-the-counter drugstores requires, at a minimum, creating a laboratory that meets well-defined hygiene standards for manufacturing and storing. They do not have access to an official distribution network.

 

The idea that we have discussed with the Sisters consists of combining the three projects. This does not mean building three laboratories that all meet the mandatory hygiene standards. There would only be one laboratory for distillation, making the creams and storing finished products. However, each garden would have its own area for drying the plants grown on-site. To absorb the cost of building the laboratory, production would need to be increased, either directly in the gardens currently used, by purchasing plants from other farmers or by developing new gardens, which could be possible in Asunción.

 

 

The various stages of an expansion project that may generate real additional income for the families: :

 

Expanding the production and sale of products requires: :

 

  • acknowledgment or approval from the Health Ministry. The community of farmers, assisted by the Sisters, is handling this issue ;

 

  • building a real laboratory that complies with hygiene standards for manufacturing and storage. Funding is required in order for this to happen.

 

Once this first stage (which may take 2 to 3 years) is complete, we will have to join forces to address the issue of distribution channels.

 

Training will need to be provided to youths to ensure the long-term success of the project: :

  • training in the production of herbal medicines,
  • management training: production, storage, sales, accounting, etc.

ODNS could provide grants for these training courses.

 

 

This is a particularly wonderful project. The groups are prepared on a human and spiritual scale. Intellectually speaking, not much is required to transform this community and non-cash-based economy into a cash and solidarity-based economy. However, a lot of funds are still needed to allow these projects to get off the ground and help the farmers, who are currently living in great poverty, to earn some additional income.

 

It is up to people like us, who have the necessary means, to provide financial solidarity to these Christians who provide so much evangelical outreach for all people through sustainable development.

 

 

They are counting on you to help them get their projects off the ground.

 

                                                                                                                     Bernard and Sophie Charvet