VASUDHA JAIVIK KRISHAK KALYAN SAMITI, INDIA
The cotton farmers we work with in India currently find it very difficult to access non-genetically modified cotton seeds, with over 95 percent of cotton seed supply in India being genetically modified. This limits the opportunities of cotton farmers to improve their livelihoods by gaining access to higher-value markets for their crops, since Fairtrade and organic standards prohibit use of GM seeds.
Vasudha Jaivik Krishak Kalyan Samiti is a registered society of smallholder cotton farmers in Khargone district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Vasudha comprises 1,524 individual members spread across 47 villages, of which 1,417 are men and 107 are women.
In late 2016, Fairtrade Foundation raised funds through TRAID to develop a three-year seed breeding programme for non-GM cotton seeds. The project aims to benefit 1,500 farmer members of Vasudha and will be extended to other producer organizations in the coming years.
Thanks to Fairtrade Premium funds, Vasudha has been able to invest significantly in their members' businesses. The cooperative makes its own chemical-free fungicides, insecticides and nutritional supplements and sells to farmers at cost. They work with several technical experts to provide periodical workshops and training camps on different topics to improve quality and productivity.
Vasudha has also used the Fairtrade Premium to benefit the local communities. Projects include the establishment of a skills development centre for women where they learn stitching and tailoring to supplement their income and efforts are being made to enrol all the girls in the community in the local schools.
The cooperative was even able to use Premium funds to build a school for the children of local farmers. Today, over 450 students attend the school, which offers education up to twelfth grade. Vasudha also invested in school buses so that now students from 80 villages can attend the school. They aim to build a college in the coming years.
"With great courage and determination, we are on the way to achieving our vision for better farming."
says Avinash Karmarkar, the Vice-President of Vasudha.
"We have raised the bar for sustainable agriculture and won't stop there. Abiding by the Fairtrade Standards, we have many exciting plans."
Vasudha is an example of Fairtrade supporting the empowerment of farmers in taking control of their future.
Fairtrade Monitoring Report 9th Edition (2018), Fairtrade International