A FAIR WORLD FOR FARMERS AND THE SOIL
Author: Shikhita Gupta and Ashna Rustagi
Every year World Fair Trade Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May and the day aims to celebrate Fair Trade and encourage the public to choose Fair Trade goods and highlights the importance of being a fair and ethical consumer. The theme for this year is ‘Build Back Fairer’. This will give the world the chance not just to build back better but build back fairer. Fair Trade practices promote improved social and environmental standards for producers around the world, especially when those producers come from marginalized communities.
This year Sangam is celebrating World Fair Trade Day by highlighting the importance of Fair-Trade practices in the Indian Agriculture Sector and startups aiming to restore farms and forests through innovative business models and sourcing directly from the producers and how such companies are helping ‘Build Back Fairer’.
Agriculture in India is one of the most complex, unorganized, underinvested, and least digitized sectors. Fair Trade practice in the Indian Agriculture sector can bring in investments that will not only support indigenous farming communities but will also promote soil conservation through improved agricultural practices, watershed management and will also help in reducing the GHG footprint of the agriculture value chain. Whether it’s taking action to improve incomes, training farmers to be more resilient to climate change, or enabling communities to invest in education, Fairtrade empowers farmers and workers to face a range of economic, environmental, and social challenges.
Here are the 5 startups from The Land Accelerator and Emerging India Accelerator Program 2.0 that are setting an example of how Fair-Trade Practices and Sustainability can go hand in hand even during the pandemic.
1. Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Ltd.
A farmer producer company was established in 2013 to shift the power to the producers and promote sustainable livelihood through Fair Trade and sustainable harvesting practices. Beneficiaries of Aadhimalai are 3000+ tribal families and 170+ villages.
Image source: Aadhimalai FPC
“The second wave is on and we must liquidate some forest produce from the community farmers as they are losing their daily jobs and completely rely on their NTFP and agriculture Produce now. However, Mother Nature has blessed them with a good yield of NTFP for this summer and it is now Aadhimalai’s duty to give them the best value for the produce. At Aadhimalai we were able to kick start our procurement for this financial year with huge confidence since we witnessed good profits during the last financial year and were also able to give the community more than 30% procurement rate for the first crop of the year (Shikakai). The community farmers despite the pandemic have put more effort into NTFP collection and Farming unlike the last couple of years. The pandemic has made many Tribal farmers revive their agriculture during the lockdown. Hopefully, it will continue…” — Jestin Pauls, CEO, Aadhimalai.
2. BastaR se BazaaR tak
Image Source: BastaR se BazaaR tak
They are on a mission to reduce minor forest produce losses, build natural forest products and create flexible & supportive local employment through collective action. They have created jobs for the locals, out of which two-third of the employment is for the local women. The enterprise is trying to enhance the livelihoods of local forest dwellers by reducing post-harvest losses and supplying high-quality, unadulterated, processed forest produce to urban consumers at a fair price. Bastar se Bazaar Tak is working to fill a gap in available work for forest-dwelling families in one of India’s poorest regions.
3. JeevAnksh Eco-Products Pvt. Ltd.
With their vision to make organic products of North East India available in the domestic and international market, they are working to provide farmer market linkages and benefit small & marginal Tribal Farmers. They are engaged with 10,000 smallholder tribal farmers who are receiving up to 15% above farmgate prices. They engage with these farmers with skill upgradation through a training program on Organic best practices. These training programs help the farmer reduce their cost of production, as they learn to make their organic farm inputs. Reduced cost of production and a higher premium for organic production enables the farmers in a sustainable increase in income and their overall economic development.
Image Source: JeevAnksh Eco-Products Pvt. Ltd
Gunajit Brahma who is the Founder of JeevAnksh highlights how they have helped the farmers during this pandemic, “We had normal orders even during Covid. Actually, Organic Market has grown by 50% due to Covid. Consumers across India and abroad preferred healthier food. We are even exporting organic goods. Only supply was a constraint, as due to the lockdown, vehicle movements were limited. You can say that to improve the conditions of associated farmers, we helped them contract farming with buyback assurances and digitalizing the process.”
4. Laymen Agro
They are ensuring that village fresh agricultural produce reaches the urban consumers through a hyperlocal aggregator model by channeling Lion’s share of consumer prices back to the rural economy while empowering rural youth.
Image source: Sangam Team
“Building back by building the backbone of our economy through an alternate distribution channel for the Agro outputs and an efficient supply chain for the Agro inputs.” — Selva Kumar, Founder, Laymen Agro.
5. Spudnik Farms
They are providing agricultural extension services and market linkages to small & marginal farmers involved in organic farming to urban customers through a subscription model. Spudnik is a network of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms that connects consumers directly with pesticide-free, organic fruits and vegetables. They believe in following sustainable farming practices which make partner farmers more self-reliant, encourages soil health, and increase long-term productivity.
Image source: Sangam Team
During the pandemic, orders have been pouring in and Sumeet, who is the founder of Spudnik Farms is ensuring that she delivers to as many customers as possible, “I have been receiving distress calls. There was a husband and wife in Bellandur, who just had a baby. The husband ate potatoes so that his wife could get to eat other vegetables. We received a request to deliver there. We could make a small deviation and distribute it there. We have also received requests to distribute to parents staying in Bangalore.” As they are helping the customers by even going out of their way, they are also making sure that their delivery personnel and the customers are both safe.
So, let’s celebrate this year's World Fair Trade Day and encourage the innovations and hard work of startups that are following Fair Trade practices and are putting this planet before profits.