Advocating for Yerba Mate: Updates on Regulation Amendments

Minister Carlos Fávaro of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Mapa) engaged in discussions with representatives from the national and state Câmara Setorial and the Syndicate of the yerba mate productive chain in Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul during his visit to the 24th Expodireto Cotrijal on Monday. The focus was on amending Mercosur’s Resolution 12/11, addressing the Technical Regulation on Mercosur Maximum Limits for Inorganic Contaminants in Food.

yerba mate in a traditional container
Photo by Los Muertos Crew on

Fávaro emphasized the significance of the yerba-mate sector to the Southern region’s economy and expressed the need to enhance its competitiveness. The primary request from the sector involves modifying the analysis levels of cadmium and lead content in the plant.

The minister mentioned that the Ministry’s technical team is currently in Rosario, Argentina, for the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS) meeting. The sector’s plea has been conveyed to the Mapa representative at the meeting for further discussion.

The Mercosur Technical Regulation 12/11, signed by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, governs trade and imports among them.

Jorge Gustavo Birck, a consultant for the yerba-mate Sectoral Chamber, explained that discussions on adjusting cadmium and lead levels to the plant’s natural levels have been ongoing since 2011. Recent signals from Argentina indicate a potential agreement during an upcoming fair in Buenos Aires.

Studies presented to Mapa, Anvisa, and Itamaraty since then demonstrate that levels exceeding Mercosur standards are natural and depend on the soil type and availability.

National Production and Importance

Yerba mate, also known as “Green Gold,” stands as the primary non-timber product in the Southern Brazilian agroforestry sector. Widely consumed in the form of chimarrão and tea, yerba mate is appreciated for its caffeine, theobromine, and saponin content.

Brazil leads yerba-mate production in South America, with cultivation in approximately 486 municipalities across Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Mato Grosso do Sul. This industry spans nearly 180,000 rural properties.

This engagement between Minister Fávaro and the yerba-mate sector underscores the ongoing efforts to address regulatory concerns and ensure the growth and competitiveness of this vital segment in Brazil’s agriculture landscape.