Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2022. 6:56 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Naledo.com
By Rubén Morales Iglesias:
Founded in 2016 with the “idea that a new product using underutilized and world-class turmeric root could not only become a viable business but have a positive impact on the community and the environment,” Naledo Belize Ltd. leads the way in protecting the environment.
“It’s really important for Belize to be one of those outstanding countries that actually cares about its environment and its people,” said Umeeda Switlo, Naledo Belize Ltd. founder CEO.
Switlo said Naledo’s main product, Truly Turmeric paste, which includes turmeric, coconut oil, black pepper, and lime juice, can be used in many ways.
“Number one, it’s used in cooking, so, whether it’d be Indian cooking or … add it to escabeche, add it to potato salad, to a salad dressing, smoothies, add it to milk and make a wonderful golden milk, add it to hot water and make a lovely tea. All those things are really good for your health. It seems like about a teaspoon of Truly Turmeric really improves your health. I made bread the other day. Canadians even put it in pastries and cakes,” said Switlo.
Naledo had ten products selling in Belize and six are exported.
But the company that is now exporting its turmeric products to Canada, the United States, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, that has won Food Matters Lives, Best New Food of the year in 2020 in the UK, employs 300 Belizean farmers, and has pumped over BZ $2.5 million into the local economy, is proud of its positive impact.
“For every thousand pounds we buy, we ask our growers to plant ten trees. So, when you look at that you can see over 45,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide sequestered,” Switlo said. So far over 900 trees have been planted through that policy.
According to Switlo, in 2019 a University of British Columbia student, Allison Chadwick, monitored and evaluated Naledo’s impact as part of her work on her master’s degree thesis in Agroforestry.
That work showed them how to keep monitoring and evaluating their impact in Toledo.
She said the turmeric is not irrigated, and herbicides are not used.
“They don’t irrigate their crops because they are wildly grown, so it’s not your regular farm. It’s not like a monoculture. It’s very diverse. It has trees, it has coffee, it has cacao, it has many things, and turmeric is growing under that,” she said.
That method of growing turmeric in a wild state has saved over 1.6 million gallons of water which is a resource affected by climate change plus it also converts turmeric into a far more climate resilient crop.
“Our growers are not permitted to use herbicides or pesticides in the growing of turmeric, saving over 2,900 liters of chemicals from entering the environment. This simple policy can impact the environment and human health in very positive ways,” said a statement by Naledo Belize.
Additionally, as registered B Corporation, Naledo Belize said it uses best practices in its entire operation from not using plastic containers to paying farmers eight times the Fair-trade price for turmeric at $1.50 per pound.
This season, Naledo has bought turmeric from 55 women and 106 men from 20 villages in Toledo. Overall, they buy from 300 small-scale growers on a rotation basis, said Switlo.
“We rotate from village to village so turmeric can grow again. Turmeric is really fast growing. It takes about nine months to grow, however the best turmeric will take about two years to grow. But, when you consider turmeric versus cacao, its value is far higher. Its net impact on the economy is far higher,” said Switlo.
“With this positive impact in the community and working with a team of young people that earn good wages and Naledo paying 100% of their social security payments, Naledo has managed to add over $2.5 million Bz to the local economy,” said the statement.
“We are very grateful to our 300 small scale growers and our young enthusiastic team members for these results. Naledo is a small company that is proud of its positive impacts. I encourage all Belizean companies to not only measure their profits but also their impact in the community and environment. I want Belize to be known for growing exceptional products with care for its community and environment,” concluded Switlo.
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