Farmers in Malta are under a ton of pressure to compete in this era of globalisation; however, Hadeel Balzan feels that one has a moral responsibility to safeguard the trade.
Newsbook.com.mt sat down with Hadeel Balzan to speak about Sapun ta’ Malta, a recently launched social enterprise which produces handcrafted soap. Balzan showed this newsroom how to prepare soap, as well as explaining the idea behind the brand.
Balzan clarified that the idea behind Sapun ta’ Malta was to create a product which brought the East and West together, saying that despite Malta being such a small country, one finds so much diversity here. She said that it was also a question of “reflecting Malta in its simplest form”.
When asked about how the raw material is sourced, she estimated that around 60% of their needs are sourced locally… from raw material and production to woodwork and illustration. She stressed that, for her, it is a moral responsibility to engage the dying agricultural industry when sourcing raw material to make soap.
‘Basic’ industries are disappearing
Reflecting on the industry, Balzan noted that ‘basic’ industries such as these are slowly vanishing, observing that the phenomenon was not only limited to the agricultural industry but included other examples of craftsmanship.
She explained in detail how the raw products are sourced from local full-time and part-time farmers from whom they buy lemons, oranges, olive oil, carrots, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and so on. Once they meet with the producer they assess and test their product and, if it qualifies, they buy it in bulk to be used in the soapmaking.
The history of soapmaking
Balzan explained that it many disagree where the art of soapmaking originated; however, she referred to centres in the Middle East, primarily in Turkey, Syria, Palestine and South Lebanon, as being “centres of soap excellence”.
On choosing Malta
Balzan referred to Malta’s diversity and various cultures coexisting, while saying that the country offered stability and peace to allow one to produce soap. She also spoke of how family recipes were handed to her from friends in Turkey, Palestine and Lebanon.