PureCircle, the world's leading producer and marketer of high-purity stevia products, announces a special partnership with the Agricultural Ministry of Paraguay to provide smallholder farms in that country the opportunity to improve their standard of living by growing and harvesting stevia. The PureCircle plan, called “1,000 Families,” starts with a government grant for 1,000 family farms to build a small stevia nursery. PureCircle will provide cuttings to stock each nursery with an anticipated end yield of 60,000 to 65,000 seedlings per farm. The company will also supply ongoing agronomic and technical support to enable the farmers to flourish. The planting goal is 1/2 hectare per farm in the first growing season (December 2013 to July 2014) that will be rapidly scaled as conditions permit.
In addition, as long as the farmers propagate PureCircle’s proprietary high-yielding stevia plants, the company guarantees purchase of the entire harvested crop. The company hopes to see the nurseries increase cultivation in order to generate up to 500 new hectares of stevia by July 2014.
“Stevia is native to Paraguay, so the growing conditions are ideal,” says Ajay Chandran, director of corporate sustainability. “In our experience working closely with family farms on four continents, we’ve seen how stevia can provide a steady income for smallholder farms that benefit individual families and their community at large. We are excited to expand our presence in Paraguay and the potential for economic development through sustainable agricultural practices.”
PureCircle has a substantial presence and experience working in Paraguay and today supports more than 1,300 farmers across Paraguay with more than 500 hectares already under cultivation. “This agreement reinforces our continuing commitment to support farmers in Paraguay,” remarks Fernando Chilavert, managing director, PureCircle South America. “We’ve been able to help small farmers grow stevia sustainably in Paraguay since 2009. Now in partnership with the Paraguayan government, we’ll be able to do even more.”
Growing areas in the Paraguayan departments of San Pedro, Caazapá, Itapúa, Alto Parana, Paraguarí, Cordillera, Caaguazú, and Guairá will benefit from PureCircle’s involvement as part of the government’s new five-year plan to fight poverty.