Reviving a dying industry: Buddika Prasanna on his brand Badulu Kithul

Badulu Kithul Products and the sister brand Amurtha were started with the intention to bring high-quality kithul jaggery and kithul treacle to the Sri Lankan market and to restore the prominent uses which we had from kithul trees centuries ago. Their primary goal is to  enhance the villagers who are involved in the kithul industry.

The emergence of their sister brand Amurtha was assigned to compensate for the master brand, as their vision and mission is to uplift the rural economy as much as possible. 

Speaking to Badulu Kithul Founder E.B. Buddika Prasanna, he commented that they have observed the shortage of entrepreneurs along with the precise leadership in the local economy, thus, they took it upon themselves to form an entity to process and add value to Sri Lankan fruits to be on par with the international markets in all the quality standards. 

Badulu Kithul is essentially a platform where one may purchase a range of freeze-dried fruits from the Amurtha range, and pure kithul treacle and jaggery from the Badulu Kithul range. The products work for individual purposes, but Prasanna added that they are meant to be an alternative to gifts. “You can see for new year, or even when visiting a house, it is traditional to give the residents a gift of food. Nowadays, most people gift sweets like cake or biscuits, but it is very likely that not everyone in the house will be able to eat it,” he said, referring to those with diabetes or other illnesses that prevent them from eating sugary foods. 

Keeping this in mind, he kept the packaging for the products very aesthetic and even came up with the concept of wooden boxes and holders to gift the products in. By having these boxes made, he is also helping the wood crafting industry to stay afloat during these times and ensuring that the industry does not die out. These boxes can be reused and repurposed after it is given, even in the kitchen as a spice bottle holder. He also added that the boxes are designed by skilled artisans around the country that specialise in woodwork. “This way, they look like a gift of value, and now everyone at home can indulge in a little sweetness,” he commented, reminding us that the sweetness from kithul does not come from sugar or artificial flavouring, so anyone can enjoy it. 

It is even said that in ancient times kithul was used in Ayurvedic remedies for a myriad of health benefits such as preventing arthritis, improving skin complexion, relieving constipation, aiding weight loss, and combating blood sugar. Here in Sri Lanka, where kithul tapping is a dying tradition, there are still a few nooks and crannies that will use kithul for Ayurvedic purposes, but sadly, it is fading out. 

This is where Prasanna and Badulu Kithul come in. “Everybody talks about the uses of the coconut tree, but no one talks about the kithul tree anymore. The art of kithul tapping has been around for more than 3,000 years, but the cane sugar industry took over,” observed Prasanna.

Once the kithul is done, it is sent to the boutiques. “Some of these boutiques still have the barter system running as they are very poor. So by directly purchasing my treacle and jaggery from these villages, I pay them about Rs. 50 extra per collection so the villagers collect the treacle and jaggery and give it to me,” he said, adding that then the villagers have the financial freedom to go about as they please. Economically, he explained that if we are to eradicate this problem of small shop owners in villages almost scamming the citizens, then it would eventually encourage the businesses. 

The brand also offers a range of freeze-dried strawberries, mango, banana, and ginger. 

The freeze-dry technology helps to preserve any raw food for a longer period of time without food preservatives or chemical substances and without damaging the original texture of the subject while preserving all the essential nutrients. Prasanna stated that they are the only brand in Sri Lanka to possess such technology, and therefore the experience which they offer to their customers is going to be unique and vivid: “Let us explore the world of food in a novel manner.”