Date of Award


Document Type

Master's report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Social Sciences


Kathleen Halvorsen


Paraguay is characterized in part by an economy reliant on a massive soy industry and as facing social and economic challenges resulting from highly inequitable distribution of wealth and land ownership, particularly for smallholder farmers in the rural areas of the country. Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis), a native tree of which the leaves are used in tea, has become an increasingly common crop grown among common among smallholder farmers (owners of 10 hectares or less) as a viable alternative to soy production on a small scale. In the rural agricultural community of Libertad del Sur, located in the heart of the severely deforested Bosque Atlántico del Alto-Paraná, a series of development initiatives including tree nurseries and agroforestry projects with yerba mate were implemented with involvement of several governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Research was conducted to identify effectiveness of an agroforestry strategy to promote reforestation activities and sustainable agriculture to achieve economic and subsistence goals of the rural population. Despite a severe drought impacting initial research goals, important lessons are considered regarding promotion of development work within the community as well as community perceptions towards development agencies. Pursuit of compromise between community member and agency goals using sustainable agricultural practices is identified as an effective means to promote mutually beneficial development strategies.