Software helps yerba mate growers with economic planning
Dec. 9, 2016
The world production of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is concentrated in three South American countries: Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. The Brazilian production of green yerba mate is approximately 935,000 tons, while that of Argentina is 778,000 tons and Paraguay is 85,000 tons.
In Brazil, the State of Paraná is the largest producer, with 512,412 tons, followed by Rio Grande do Sul, with 296,437 tons, and Santa Catarina, with 123,810 tons. Brazilian yerba mate is exported on a small scale to 30 countries, and the largest importer is Uruguay. There are approximately 700 beneficiary industries and some 150,000 small farmers located in more than 480 municipalities, providing around 700,000 jobs.
Approximately 80% of the Brazilian production of yerba mate is destined for the domestic market, 96% of which is consumed as chimarrão and 4% in the form of teas and other uses. However, there is a large market with potential, mainly outside Brazil. Several countries have discovered the potential of yerba mate to make other products, such as teas, energy, food supplements, cosmetics, other types of drinks, and cleaning products. These countries have created demand for raw materials from Brazil and Argentina. Therefore, there is ample scope in serving these markets, both for the supply of raw materials and for the manufacture of new products.
The plant's chemical composition includes healthy compounds of interest, and many applications can be foreseen, which could expand the market and increase the added value of the product, provided it is exploited under new industrialization standards.
Historically, it has been a key crop for the economy of many municipalities in the south of Brazil. However, the forestry sector, which was once responsible for an economic cycle in which it was called the "Green Gold," went through a long period of stagnation, with a consequent drop in investments and the development of technologies. With the potential for new product development and discovery by the international market, the industry needs to innovate to meet these new demands.
Embrapa Florestas (PR) has just made available the Planin_Matte software, which allows the economic analysis of yerba mate plantations, taking into consideration the various segments of operational costs of implantation, maintenance, management, and harvesting the crop. Aimed at the producer, the system helps to control cash flows and performs evaluations according to the economic-financial analysis criteria most used in agribusiness. "With this system, we intend to help the yerba mate producer with decision-making for management and planning activities related to their plantations," explained an Embrapa technician.
The tool is free and can be downloaded from the Embrapa Florestas website. Planin_Matte is derived from the Planin software, which is widely used by the planted forests sector for economic analyses. According to Edilson Batista de Oliveira, the Embrapa Florestas researcher responsible for the software's development, the system was adjusted to meet the peculiarities of the yerba mate culture.
The user provides cost and production data, and the system calculates the most commonly used economic analysis parameters for the evaluation of weed production during different harvesting periods.
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