Supporting Indigenous Communities

I have always felt there is a need to bridge the gap between the ancient and the modern in all aspects of life, and believe it’s important to support indigenous and marginalized communities and small-scale businesses (not large corporations) to create and sustain an economic livelihood. I prefer to channel my financial resources into supporting sustainable, small, local, family businesses, and especially those that assist indigenous farmers and communities to create an economic livelihood, rather than support most large corporations and big businesses whose only responsibility is to their board and shareholders, not the community, and certainly not the environment.

We always hear how easy it is to ‘vote with our dollars’. We have control over where our money goes, so why not buy ethical products from traditional farmers and indigenous communities? When choosing the products and companies to support, we have to be aware of food miles, so support those companies located as close to our geographical location as possible.

Here are two of my preferred companies/brands supporting indigenous communities:

Niugini Organics

Niugini Organics produces 100% organic, raw, unrefined, unbleached, single origin, virgin coconut oil. The main objective of this company is to link food consumers who want an organic, ethical source of coconut oil with farmers and rural communities in Papua New Guinea who harvest coconuts commercially.

The company was launched a decade ago “as a direct challenge to the two hundred year old trade model of exporting PNG small holder farm produce as an unprocessed bulk commodity for a fraction of its ultimate value – the old paradigm where the grower has been screwed to the point of poverty.”

Niugini Organics aims to increase economic returns to rural farmers (instead of a large corporation) with the production of their own single brand of coconut oil that can be exported to a high-priced consumer market, where there is high global demand for simple, raw, pure, healthy foods with minimal processing.

This business model appeals to me because I get to support an ethical product that gives indigenous communities and a growing nation the opportunity to develop and self-sustain economically. I prefer to channel my financial resources where I can into helping indigenous communities, not corporations.

The farmers are the direct stakeholders in the business, are paid a fair price (above the local average price) for raw materials (coconuts), and have a guaranteed market and income for their product.

Loving Earth

Loving Earth is an Australian owned and operated company based in Melbourne, Australia. The original idea for the business was conceived in India a decade ago, and was inspired by the desire to assist indigenous communities around the world to grow and market their ancient crops for commercial purposes, enabling them to create an economic livelihood through sustainable management of these crops in their respective geographic regions. This idea has blossomed into a wonderful vision that honours the Earth, nature, indigenous people and the consumer.

The company’s motto is Healthy – Sustainable – Fair which reflects the guiding principles on which the company is built. The ingredients in Loving Earth’s products are organic and wild-harvested as close to their raw state as possible, to maintain maximum nutrition and their cultural significance as ‘superfoods’. Native crops are grown organically, utilizing principles of permaculture and cultivation methods that restore, not damage, the environment. Indigenous farmers are paid fair wages, gain occupational skills and are empowered to improve practices at the ‘point of origin’ so more funds are invested back into their communities.

The company has made a solid commitment to socially and environmentally sustainable practices. Their raw cacao is grown in Peru by co-operatives run by indigenous communities, and travels less food miles than it would if it came from the Ivory Coast in Africa to the point of production in Melbourne, Australia. Their philosophy recognizes the existence of an inter-connected ecosystem that includes their growers, suppliers, customers, staff and the Earth.

I support grass roots development that strengthens communities at the ground level and especially where this involves indigenous and marginalised communities and retains economic power within the community, for the people. Get to know the companies behind the products you use and consider changing your preferences to brands assisting indigenous communities.

© 2015 Environmental Warrior
Photo by Kiran Valipa on Unsplash

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