Sarath Ranaweera, Director of Biofoods, a Fair Trade, Organic Tea and Spice organization working with small farmers in Sri Lanka sent holiday greetings to Equal Exchange this morning. He included a bit of exciting news which I’d like to share with you.
Three years ago, I visited Sri Lanka with another colleague at Equal Exchange to learn more about the work of our tea partners, Biofoods. They are the only organization in Sri Lanka that works with small farmers. (There is other Fair Trade tea being produced in Sri Lanka but none of it comes from small holders.) Biofoods’ mission is to provide market access to small farmers so that they can stay on the land, provide strong livelihoods for their families, and maintain healthy and vibrant communities.
We were deeply impressed with their commitment to small farmer organizations as a development model and to organic (and biodynamic) production as a way to protect the earth’s fragile and diminishing resources. To fulfill its social, economic and environmental mission through the export of high quality, organic, Fair Trade tea and spices, Biofoods has developed state of the art technology in processing and packaging. The staff applies this expertise, along with technical assistance and market access to SOFA (the Association of Organic Small Farmers) which includes 750 farmers growing a variety of foods for local consumption, as well as tea and spices for export.
In his note to us, Sarath included the following update of their progress:
“We are happy to inform you that our sister company, Eco Foods successfully opened the organic shop for locals in Kandy City Centre, the largest mall in Sri Lanka. This was one of the key issues in our concept: that we provide locals with healthy food while exporting the excess. Finally, we were lucky to be inside one of prime places and we have section for fair trade in which non-food produce from small producers is also sold.
This will be a kind of Historical mile stone in our long journey in the organic World during the last 16 years. There was a very distinguished gathering including top Civil servants, senior university academics, Artists, lawyers, representatives from Environmentally-friendly movements, organic farmer organizations and well wishers. Others must now follow our sustainable model of this small organic farmer project in which practical application of organic and fair trade on the ground will improve the socio economic standards of marginalized farmers which we are showing to be possible. Photos are attached.
Thank you for all your encouragements and appreciations.”
We congratulate them in this latest milestone and wish them even greater success!
To learn more about Biofoods, SOFA and our line of Sri Lankan teas, click here.