Corporate Social Responsibility
What is a bioprospecting permit? And why is EcoProducts Bioprospecting permit such a big deal?
On the 12 November 2013, EcoProducts was issued with a Bioprospecting permit from the South Africa Department of Environment Affairs. So what, you may ask, is this all about?
South Africa has introduced laws that make it illegal to harvest our indigenous resources for commercial use. Companies must be able to prove that the resources being harvested are done with the full knowledge and benefit of the communities who own the resource and that it is being done sustainable way. In issuing a Bioprospecting permit to EcoProducts for harvesting baobab fruit, we become one of the very few companies in South Africa to be recognized as being compliant with the legislation.
Bioprospecting involves a wide range of groups, from researchers, owners of the resources, harvesters, companies involved in processing, marketing and reselling of the products and government departments. Examples of other products are Rooibos, Pelargonium, Marula and Aloe. It is thus a complex piece of legislation to manage. Everybody involved is expected to have a bioprospecting permit so that our resources continue to provide benefits to current and future generations.
Recently, Greg Cameron was commissioned by PhytoTrade to make a film on baobabs in which he records the stories of the baobab fruit collectors and how baobab fruit help them improve their lives. Here, Itai Chibiya, PhytoTrade's Monitoring and Research Evaluator is being filmed while being interviewed. EcoProducts was chosen as the site for the interviews. Sarah Venter, the owner of EcoProducts was also interviewed about how she works with the harvesters and ensures that the collection of the fruit benefits everybody in the supply chain and in particular the harvesters. Sitting under one of the biggest baobabs in the village chatting to some of the baobab fruit collectors gave her an insight into what this special and talented man was all about. He says “ do less, do it better and make it matter more”. He now wants to fuse his knowledge with his passion to build socially conscious brands through integrated story.
Greg was also commissioned to film the Siemens COP 17 Baobab video – a brilliant 90 second video!
There are 21 videos by Greg Cameron on Vimeo. He is a freelance video producer and has done a wide variety of award-winning work from TV ad campaigns to brand promotions. Do take a few minutes out of your day to watch his videos- he's a man to follow!
LOHASIA is a social enterprise working to educate, empower and inspire everyone to enjoy lifestyles of health and sustainability. Recently, they published an article on Kristi Mackintosh owner of Pura Vida, an online natural product store selling amongst other beauty products, EcoProducts Baobab Oil. Here's an extract from the article:
"Recognising the potential for positive impact that our purchasing decisions can have on the people that make our products, Kristi works with companies such as Eco Products in South Africa. This small enterprise produces baobab oil, an excellent skin moisturizer containing Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, which contribute towards maintaining a healthy skin. Eco Products sources the baobab directly from women in local rural communities who have been using baobab oil for centuries, but who never looked at the oil as a resource for selling and making an income. Now over 1,000 women receive income from Eco Products, and the company has rigorous sustainability practices to ensure the long-term conservation of this important tree".
For the full article click here: http://lohasia.net/heroes/175-kristi-mackintosh
During an impressive ceremony hosted by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in Polokwane last week, EcoProducts was one of three companies who were awarded a bioprospecting permit. The permit was handed over to Dr Sarah Venter and two community representatives, Ms Sophiah Nemutshenzheni and Ms Livhuwani Tshivhiyahuvhi by the MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Limpopo Province, Mr Moloto.
The permit means that Sarah and her communities have the blessing of the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs for their activities. They are only one of 11 companies who are now compliant with the new legislation on bioprospecting and the utilization of our indigenous biological resources.
The Biodiversity Act which promotes the "fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources". In this way the act is founded on the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing which arose from the Convention on Biological Diversity.
A few months ago, we told you about Healthbox SA which we think is such a cool concept! Each month, subscribers to Health Box SA are sent a luxurious combination of health, fitness and wellness products. Each item has been tried, tested and tasted by a panel of experts to ensure that what lands up on subscribers’ doorsteps are the latest, trusted and best-for-you products available. Last time our Baobab oil featured and this month EcoProducts Baobab Superfruit powder makes its debut appearance in the Healthbox.
Health Box SA delivers – to the subscriber’s door – all the best healthy products the wellness market has to offer!
To try it out for yourself, click here for more details http://buff.ly/15AQ7rC
The latin name, Adansonia digitata, was given to the baobab by Carl Linneaus. He named the baobab after the a French naturalist Michel Adanson. Adanson was posted to Senegal in 1749 to research the natural resources of the area. He was blown away by his first sight of a baobab describing it as "a forest in itself”. This description of the tree reached Linneaus while Adanson was still in Africa, However when Adanson retuned to Europe he opposed the name, suggesting it be named baobab from the earlier description made by Alpini. But Linneaus would not change his mind and thus the genus continues to be known as Adansonia.
The specific name for this species is ‘digitata’ from the palmate shaped leaves which look like a hand with digits (fingers).
Source: Watson, 2007
Absolutely nothing goes to waste when we make our baobab oil and powder. We would potentially have three ‘waste’ products. The first is the shell of the fruit, which is cracked open to remove the power and seed in the primary stage of processing. The second is the seed coat, this is the very hard outer layer of the seed itself. We remove this just before we extract the oil as it does not contain any oil. The third is the seed cake, this is left over after we have pressed the seed. The fruit shells are used as a fuel in our Donkey Boiler to make hot water for our staff to shower. The baobab seed coats are used as mulch in our vegetable and flower gardens. Lastly the seed cake is used by livestock farmers in the area as feed for their cattle and sheep. Nothing is left after we've processed the baobab seed pods – it all goes back to Nature.
How old were your parents when you were born? Not as old as the Baobab tree has to be before it's capable of bearing fruit. It can take a Baobab tree up to 200 years before it produces its first green-brown velvety pod-shaped fruit. January is when Baobabs start to fruit and fruit production is highly variable between trees. Some trees never produce fruit even though they flower every year. Some trees produce only a few fruit a year and others produce huge quantities. I have been monitoring baobab tree fruit production in Venda for 7 years. The record was 1200 fruit on one tree, but this was highly unusual. Mostly they average about 65 fruit per tree per year. EcoProducts only ever harvests fallen fruit to avoid harming the parent tree.