The goal of participatory research is to engage communities in the research process in order to bring about social change. Participatory research often includes the voices of those not traditionally heard in academic circles, serving to share the perspectives of those on the ground with policy makers, researchers, and institutions. Results are also shared with farmer-collaborators in a way that makes them most useful through workshops, on farm training and research.
Ilex guayusa is a holly tree native to the upper Amazonian regions of Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. There is very little scientific literature on the plant. The plant has been cultivated for hundreds of years by indigenous people who use the leaves to make a stimulating tea. Due to growing demand for the plant, Fundación Runa has begun a participatory research initiative looking at best practices for growing guayusa in agroforestry systems.
Agroforestry is the combination of agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems. Our agroforestry research focuses on developing tree mixtures of guayusa, native trees, and food crops that are sustainable both for the ecosystem and for the farmers livelihoods. We partner with local communities, farmers associations, and schools in Ecuador to conduct this research.