Northern Powerhouse Partners Cocogreen founded by Dr. Sudesh Fernando & Thomas Ogden, were recently honoured by the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise; International Trade. The Award acceptance ceremony took place in their office building, Lowry House in Manchester city centre. Cocogreen is a green tech organic substrate manufacturer and innovator.
Thomas Ogden, Co-Founder said on the day: “It all started with one mission – how we can best utilise waste materials from the coconut industry and add value to it by utilising it as a renewable potting substrate. By 2050, the world population is set to double; yet the resources and increase in agricultural production is not increasing at the same rate. With limited land availability, and increased value of land globally, growers face the challenge to produce more with less. By growing in a semi – protected or protected environment; users of Cocogreen substrates can potentially treble yield. Our product provides a major assistance to overcome this key human challenge, particularly in regions where resources and land are limited. Potential water shortages are another key human challenge, it’s estimated that by next year the world will need 17% more water than is available now, Cocogreen can play a key role to help farmers reduce water use and maximise productivity. It’s incredible to think that we’re helping address these problems, to know the impact we’re having is unbelievable. Today, as a result of our advancements in international trade, we have over 700 members of the Cocogreen team all around the world. We’re not just creating high skilled jobs in Manchester, the North of England, the UK; but globally. This is something we’re excited to continue, Sudesh, I, and our team are committed to continue driving the growth of the Cocogreen brand all around the world.”
Lord mayor of Manchester City, June Hitchen added: “Being here today gives me hope for the future, gives me hope for my grandchildren, gives me hope that Manchester can grow, that we are innovative at the heart of Manchester. I’m very proud to have a company in Manchester receiving such a prestigious award, its amazing. The ecosystem which you’re trying to develop across the world, will not just help people in the Manchester region and in the UK but around the world also. That ethos is fundamental and ingrained within your company”
The Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester gave some background about the award and its significance: “It’s the most prestigious award given for business performance, the award recognises and rewards outstanding achievement by United Kingdom organisations. The awards are made each year by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister who’s assisted by an advisory committee that includes representatives of Government, industry, commerce and trade unions. These awards are not easily earned. In 2018 152 Awards for International Trade were made nationally, 15 in the North West and 1 of 5 in your county. On behalf of Her Majesty the Queen I have the honour to present Cocogreen UK Ltd with this, The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2018 in the category of International Trade.
Co-founder Dr. Sudesh Fernando also gave some insight into how they’ve helped shape the Berry growing market in the UK: “we are a key player in extended the berry growing season here in the UK, which has extended from 2-3 months to 8 months and is now valued at over £1 billion.” He discussed how they pride themselves on working within a fully operational SQS system which means they cover sustainable, quality, and social standards to the highest levels. “We believe in social mobility. We don’t just nurture crops, we nurture communities. Since our foundation, our charitable works helped bring 37 families out of poverty. For example, we use our coconut plantations to grow vegetables and fruits in between the coconut trees, otherwise this space goes unused. Since last August we have produced over 34 MT of Papaya and over 6 MT of vegetables. 25% of the profit generation, will go back to these families. Another 25% is used to expand the intercropping operation. By doing this, now families who were in poverty are taking part to help other people in poverty, ensuring that the number of families being helped is increasing every year. The rest of the profit generation will be kept to use in difficulty times for the families within the community.”
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility.