Biomass Supplies (Pvt), a company based in Sri Lanka, has 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. The parent company of Biomass Supplies, Biomass Group, 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 currently conducted over 450 training programmes – over the course 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,’ says 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.’
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,’ comments 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.’