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BUSINESS: Small Organic Farmers Association
CITY: Sri Lanka
State/Province:
Country: Sri Lanka
Established in 1997, SOFA is an umbrella organization consisting of 46 branch societies distributed in different districts in Sri Lanka. Mr. Bernard Ranaweera is the overall President of this 100% independent farmer organization of branch societies with a total of more than 2000 small organic farmers. Previously operated as a monoculture plantation, SOFA and Bio Foods have transitioned to certified organic farming, focusing on organic compost, manual weeding, and companion planting to reduce pests. Older, less productive plants have also been replaced to improve harvest yields.

Through a series of land reforms in the mid-1970’s, abandoned tea plantations were divided by the Sri Lankan government and sold to some of the tea labourers. Low tea prices and isolation left these farmers vulnerable to exploitive middlemen. SOFA was born from a vision of Bio Foods founder, Dr Sarath Ranaweera. Bio Foods processes and exports the agricultural products that SOFA farmers produce.

Managed entirely by elected farmer members, SOFA has become a sustainable model of Fair Trade in Sri Lanka. The equivalent of over $50,000 (Cdn) is received annually in Fair Trade premiums directed to initiatives that improve the standard of living for these farmers and the surrounding

**All images from Creative Commons. Specific Authors: David Bote Estrada, Kristina D.C Hoeppner, Romain Guy.