Cooperativa Payún Matrú

Formed to improve the lives of all the people living at La Payunia as well as to protect and conserve the population of wild guanacos

the cooperativa

To protect the land, the guanacos, and a way of life

The Cooperativa Payun Matru was formed in 2005 under the terms of the Argentine Cooperative Law.  There are presently 20 members – each member represents a family.  Membership is open to every person in the community.  Each member has an equal vote in the affairs of the Cooperativa.  The members elect a Board of Directors which in turn elects the officers.  The officers receive no compensation.  All decisions are taken by majority vote of the members.

The Cooperativa

The Cooperativa was formed to improve the lives of all the people living at La Payunia as well as to protect and conserve the population of wild guanacos.  For the past 100 years the only economic activity available to the people has been animal husbandry – principally goats.  This has had a devastating effect on the soils and vegetation of the Reserva as domesticated animals such as the goat are not suitable for the delicate Patagonian ecosystem.  As the environment deteriorated, the people’s cultural and economic lives also deteriorated.  Then, as scientific knowledge advanced, the people came to realize that their life style as goat herders was not sustainable.  They resolved to do something about the situation and as a result they formed the Cooperativa Payún Matrú.

The theory of the Cooperativa is that the people will be able to make rational use of the guanaco resource as an additional economic activity thereby reducing their dependence on the raising of goats.  They expect that their development of an economic relationship to the guanaco resource will also result in better conservation and protection of the guanaco population and a reduction in illegal hunting.

The goal of the Cooperativa is to develop a global market for luxury guanaco wool, yarn and garments which will in turn provide long term employment for the people of La Payunia and greater income for the population so that lives can be improved.  The Cooperativa is also a way to preserve the local culture and to encourage young people in particular to remain in La Payunia rather than leaving for the cities.

the reserva la payunia

A public nature reserve located in the Province of Mendoza in Argentina

Due to the harsh conditions and the scarcity of water the Reserva is sparsely populated - there are about 150 people living there in 30 family groups. There are few roads in the Reserva and those that exist are little more than primitive dirt tracks.  There is no electricity and no phones  There  is no water other that what can be pumped by windmills.   What the Reserva does have in abundance is wild guanacos.read more

the guanaco project

The secret to improvement in the quality of life for the community

The harsh environment of the Reserva causes the wild guanacos to grow a dense coat of high quality wool - some of the finest natural fiber known to man. The Cooperativa developed a project based on sustainable use of the guanacos. The goals of the project are to improve the quality of life for the people of La Payunia and help conserve and protect the population of wild guanacos.read more