The award was set up four years ago to recognize projects that contribute towards sustainable and environmentally responsible projects in developing countries.
This year the competition attracted 1,100 entries, of which 20 local initiatives were recognized by the independent international judging panel, in particular for contributions made to impoverished communities.
The Beraca subsidiary, known as Coopermaflima, is focused on the sustainable sourcing of oil extracted from the seeds of the Andiroba trees, a plant that is native to Marajo Island, which is situated in the Amazon basin.
Project has already been recognized for its eco credentials
The project has already garnered recognition after it won an award for its eco credentials in the 2007 World Challenge Competition.
The company’s Belem-based subsidiary involves 1,000 local people who collect the seeds and extract the valuable oil, known for its moisturizing properties in skin care and hair care formulations.
The initiative ensures a livelihood for the islanders during the wet season when they cannot practise their traditional livelihood, fishing. The initiative is also backed by a guaranteed price for the oil to ensure that the workers earn a liveable income.
Investing in regional development
"One of Beraca’s main commitments is to invest in projects that promote regional development,” said Andre Sabara, co-ordinator of corporate responsibility at Beraca.
“We are proud to represent Brazil in this major prize with a project that contributes directly to the preservation of the world’s largest tropical rainforest.”
The company has also provided training and educational programs for the residents to familiarize them with production technologies, as well as the importance of incorporating sustainable practices for the growing and harvesting of the crops.
Currently Beraca says it buys an average of 500 tons of seeds from the co-operative every year, which represents a significant increase on previous production levels while building on more sustainable practices.