Following the Rainforest Alliance (RFA) standards, Kalustyan goes to the grassroots level and works directly with farmers and vendors. This eliminates the middle man and prevents miscommunication. At Kalustyan, we are successful because we work as a team and have learned to understand the differences in perspectives and cultures. That’s why we use education to get our farmers to understand the importance of what we’re trying to accomplish.
We work to avoid issues like deforestation and assist our farmers through community involvement by providing for their families the best we can. Implementing RFA standards helps us build relationships and allows us to improve labor practices and infrastructure in areas where these issues may not be a priority.
Kalustyan’s subsidiary, Albkalustyan in Albania has been our largest importer for certain herbs and spices and we’ve learned that maintaining in-person relationships is the best way improve processes according to RFA standards. We continue to improve how we work sustainably by showing our farmers, vendors, and partners the benefits sustainability has on the overall well-being of their communities. Our work in Albania has earned us the first RFA certification in the country for sage.
Once establishing Egykal and a partnership with farmers in Egypt, we thought could implement what we learned in Albania. However, rules, government regulations, and politics between workers are very different in Egypt compared to other regions. Our efforts may have been slowed, but it was essential to take the time to understand the culture as we had in other regions. We continue to build trust, educate our farmers, work to promote equal wages, and reduce discrimination for our vendors through RFA standards as well as our own. By making our workers feel protected through Kalustyan, we know we can make a difference in these communities and the world.
Our business in Turkey, TurKal, while the smallest, has been the easiest to guide. The infrastructure where our farmers work in Turkey is not ideal, but because Kalustyan is considered trustworthy, we know we will see positive changes in the region.
RFA puts a great deal of importance on having a chain of custody and we have been able to maintain a level of traceability from farm to fork. Sustainability is important to us and following RFA standards drives us to meet that level of accountability as a business. Our work with the RFA is not to be used as selling point for Kalustyan consumers and we hope to use our products to educate all on the urgency of sustainable work and inspire our consumers to join the fight for the future.