Biomass Supplies Ltd., a company based in Sri Lanka, earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification for biomass produced from branches pruned from live fences of gliricidia trees.
The certification covers Biomass Supplies’ work with 30,000 small farmers who have planted 60 million new trees on their fences.
Gliricidia is a fast-growing, short-rotation tree found naturally in Sri Lanka. Principally grown for its leaves, which provide base materials for fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides, the species saves farmers considerable money on their annual agrochemical expenditures.
It also finds use in plantations as a shade tree and soil improver, by functioning as a “live fencing”, and for animal fodder. The coppicing of gliricidia branches twice a year also provides smallholders additional income. The main root and trunk of the tree remains sequestering carbon for 20 years.
Biomass Group (parent company) is now implementing an IT system to track every farmer, monitor the fuelwood inventory, document the impact on livelihoods, and calculate the carbon sink of the trees that are planted.
The company has also currently conducted over 450 training programs over the span of two-and-a-half years to help educate farmers on how to save money on chemical input, efficiently collect firewood, and switch to organic vegetation for their families (as chronic kidney disease is a growing concern in these areas).
“Biomass Group’s small farmer engagement and positive alternative to coal and fossil fuels in the region is a great example of sustainability in action,” said Rolf Hogan, RSB’s Executive Director. “We are proud that Biomass Group chose RSB’s certification to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and we are excited to see how they are improving smallholder livelihoods in Southeast Asia.”
RSB is recognised by NGOs as the “most comprehensive and ambitious” biomaterials sustainability certification program in the world. An international initiative that brings together farmers, companies, non-governmental organisations, experts, governments, and inter-governmental agencies concerned with ensuring the sustainability of biomaterials production and processing, RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental and operational aspects.
Biomass Supplies is the first operation in Southeast Asia to earn RSB certification and the first smallholder project to become RSB certified in Asia. Sustainability, traceability, and accreditation will enable Biomass Supplies to command fair prices which in turn will provide local farmers with a better income.
“This is an agro-energy program that combines food and fuel sourced from small farmers and plantation owners in a very innovative partnership,” said Lucky Dissanayake, Founder of the Biomass Group. “This company offers the potential for transformative impact in the agricultural communities we work in. Passing RSB’s stringent certification requirements shows that we are serious in demonstrating our sustainability credentials.”
RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials) is an independent and global multi-stakeholder coalition which works to promote the sustainability of biomaterials. RSB’s user-friendly certification scheme is the strongest and most trusted of its kind. It verifies that biomaterials are ethical, sustainable and credibly-sourced.
The certification is approved by RSB’s members, including leading NGOs and UN agencies. RSB members work across sectors to set global best practice for sustainable biomaterial production. Choosing RSB-certified biomaterials helps build trust and credibility in the bio-based sector and supports a healthy bio-based community.
Biomass Group is a vertically integrated renewable energy company that develops biomass energy resources (supply) for pellets (alternative to coal) and for power generation. Sri Lanka was chosen to demonstrate this business because the country is blessed with a bountiful supply of biomass. The objective is to then repurpose the business model for other developing countries.
Biomass Group seeks to help developing countries to find alternatives to fossil fuel and to achieve this in tandem with focusing on development. To achieve this goal, Biomass Group is a pioneering innovative and progressive partnerships with small farmers and land owners to access fuelwood supply that can be used both for power generation into the grid and as an alternative energy source.