Sri Lankan entrepreneur recognized as Fairest Fair Trader


Dr. Ananda Sarath Ranaweera

Chairman and Managing Director of Bio Foods ( Pvt) Ltd., Dr. Ananda Sarath Ranaweera received the Fairest Fair-trader Award at the first-ever Fair Trade Award ceremony held last month in Bonn, Germany. The Fairest Fair Trader Award recognizes special efforts or innovation by outstanding individuals within the global fair-trade system. In addition, the Marginalized Organic Producers’ Association (MOPA) functioning under the overall management of Bio Foods ( Pvt) Ltd. was recognized as the Small Producer organization of the year 2014 in Asia at the ceremony.

The Fair-trade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fair-trade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. When a product carries the FAIRTRADE Mark it means the producers and traders have met Fair-trade Standards. The Standards are designed to address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustices of conventional trade. In 2009, Fair-trade International (FLO) along with the World Fair Trade Organization adopted the Charter of Fair Trade Principles, which provides a single international reference point for Fair Trade.

Dr Ranaweera is an Old Boy of Matale Science College, Graduated from University of Sri Jayawardenapura, and a holder of an M. Phil in Food Science & Technology and Ph.D in Bio-statistics both from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

He is a Fair-trade pioneer in Sri Lanka. In 1993 he set up Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd, a company that processes and exports organic teas, spices, rice and other products. Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd. is a devoted Organic and Fair-trade company which has been registered under the Fair-trade Labeling Organization (FLO) and is a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM).

Upon seeing the difficulties that producers in Sri Lanka were facing, Dr. Sarath Ranaweera formed the Small Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA) in 1997. Bio Foods supports the small farmers of SOFA with training in organic farming practices and guarantees purchase of their products under fair – trade standards. SOFA revolutionized the local agricultural system and social development of farmers, their families and the community.

Dr Sarath Ranaweera, the visionary founder of the SOFA, observed that there are many other small & medium producers scattered around and out of reach of SOFA, who deserve the same attention. As a result, in August 2010 the Marginalized Organic Producers’ Association (MOPA) was formed. MOPA flocks and leads small scale farming communities in Sri Lanka with a genuine intent in bringing the marginalized producers and sophisticated end-users closer in order to contribute to the enhancement of the natural process of organic production while encouraging the sustainable development. As a certified Organic & Fair-trade producer organization, they are dedicated to environment friendly farming practices, adhering to organic principles and respecting the local ecological ethics, which enrich the soil structure and uplift the bio diversity in farm lands thereby increasing the productivity. With 24 established producer societies around the country,  the MOPA’s outreach covers 1638.3 hectares to date, with more than 800 farmer families as beneficiaries, of which most of the  family members are involved in farming either full time or part time, with close to 50% of them being women.

Dr. Sarath Ranaweera’s next step is focused on uplifting the livelihood of the resettled farming communities in Northern and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka. Under his leadership, Bio Foods has made plans to enter into partnerships with the farmers, the state sector, the non-government, and the private sector stakeholders to launch a program to develop environment-friendly farming entrepreneurs in the Northern and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka.

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