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Dipped Products - first 'Fair Trade' rubber glove

A home-grown sustainable sourcing initiative rooted in empowering smallholder rubber farmers has resulted in Sri Lanka's Dipped Products PLC (DPL) giving the world its first 'Fair Trade' rubber gloves.

'Firstlight,' a multi-faceted program that pays a fair price for rubber latex direct to farmers also offers them technical assistance, provides materials and implements and helps in building the capacities of their communities.

This initiative now benefits some five-hundred smallholder farmers and their families and accounts for 30 percent of the total latex needs of the globally-significant hand protection company of the Hayleys Group.

Consequently, several styles of natural rubber gloves supplied in DPL's own brands as well as gloves made in Sri Lanka by DPL for 'Traidcraft,' the UK's leading fair trade organization, are now reaching many countries as Fair Trade gloves and represent a first in the rubber gloves sector worldwide.

Under Firstlight, DPL guarantees Sri Lankan rubber smallholders a price indexed to RSS1 (the highest grade of the most consumed form of raw rubber) for their field latex.

It also contributes half a US Cent (about 58 cents at current exchange rates) for every pair of gloves sold with the Firstlight endorsement. The monies are utilized by the Firstlight Foundation on projects that empower smallholders in their work and day-to-day lives.

Dipped Products currently consumes 6 percent of Sri Lanka's rubber production, and the Group's requirements for manufacturing in Sri Lanka predominantly come from 3,000 smallholder farmers, most of them owning less than two hectares.

"Our objective is to ultimately bring 100 percent of the latex bought from smallholders under the Firstlight program," Dipped Products Managing Director J. A. G. Anandarajah said. "In its own way, Firstlight makes it viable for small farmers to earn a living from rubber, and contributes to another of our larger goals, the sustainable development of land under rubber cultivation."

"Firstlight is also a Green initiative, as it helps to sustain rubber lands which are commonly regarded as man-made forests," Anandarajah said .



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