Key to the environmental success of the Acai industry has been the realisation among local communities of how valuable and financially viable it is for them to keep the Acai palms alive so the berries can be harvested over and over again.
In fact, the Acai fruit industry is regarded by Greenpeace as one of the few initiatives that have the capacity to prevent the continuing destruction of the Amazon whilst simultaneously improving the quality of life for people living in the region.
Education obviously plays a major role here, both in terms of local awareness of the economic value of Acai berries and the issues associated with deforestation, and also in providing employment opportunities outside of the mainstream farming and logging industries.
So, having a Fairtrade business relationship with the workers who gather and process our 100% wild harvested and certified organic Acai berries is not enough for us. We also believe it’s important to help educate their kids.
Since opening our doors in 2005, RioLife has been donating a percentage of all sales to help build and fund schools in this part of the Amazon – and we’re the only Australian Acai company to do this. Through the charity ACAIMU we now provide schooling for nearly 100 children, many of whom would otherwise be unable to go to school due to the remoteness of their homes.
The children are transported to the school by boat, fed a meal, and given lessons in reading, writing, maths, environmental studies, home economics and crafts and social living in the community.
We’re committed to creating a healthy, sustainable future for these children and the region they live in, and believe that education is the first step towards meeting that goal. With every purchase of RioLife Freeze-Dried Acai Powder, you’re contributing to our mission too. With your help, we’ve donated more than $22,000 to the Amazon Friendly initiative to date, and are on track to donate another $30,000 or so in 2011.
On a recent trip to the Amazon, RioLife co-founders and directors Jeremy Liddle and Andrew Cameron were deeply moved at seeing the results of that contribution first hand. The kids, their teachers and their families are all extremely grateful for the donations we make to the Amazon Friendly program, which help fund teachers’ wages, new books and teaching materials. It felt fantastic to see what a positive change we’ve been able to help make to the community where our berries are harvested – and now we’re fired up to do even more!
In the future we’ll help fund even more community programs in the Amazon. Our next target is the building of a second school in the region, which has been halted at the planning stage since 2009 due to lack of funding.
Here is a little video of the founder of the acaimu school Ben Hur discussing the plans for the new school.
As they say in Brazil, obrigado. Thanks!