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Fairtrade International’s Reykia Fick met with the Fairtrade cotton cooperative Chetna Organic’s CEO, Arun Ambatipudi and Technical Head (Entomology), Ram Prasad Sana at the Textile Sustainability Conference in Istanbul.

“Having control over seed is the essence of Fairtrade. Fairtrade is not only about pricing. It is about farmers’ ownership over agriculture. Without seed there is no agriculture. The most basic human right is control over seed.”

 

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"This appetite for higher yields, led to indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, devastating soil health in the process. Like most other villages in the region, even here, small and marginal farmers could not withstand the “mighty will” of the State to impose a regime of subsidised chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” says Mr. Ambadass Sonkamble, Block co-ordinator, Chetna Organic, Secunderabad.

 

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Climate change has spawned debate as well as initiatives such as planting saplings, cultivating kitchen gardens, household energy conservation and so on.
At the grassroots level, a few farmers are doing their bit to preserve traditional and local varieties of seeds.
“These farmers are commonly called ‘Custodian farmers’. They preserve traditional seeds and make sure that they don’t disappear amongst the variety of hybrid seeds available in the market which farmers prefer because of the promise of high yield,” says M. Palanisamy, Programme Director, Rainfed Farming Development Programme at the Dhan Foundation in Madurai.
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Work in the fields is hindered which may lead to extra investment by way of weeding operations and application of fertilizer.

As the monsoon so far turned out to be the wettest in Adilabad in recent memory, the first signs of worry are beginning to show among cotton farmers. The prolonged wet spell, the current having started five days back, is hindering work in the fields which will eventually lead to extra investment by way of weeding operations and application of fertilizers. 
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An initiative aimed to pull tribal communities out of their nutritional poverty in Yeotmal district, Maharashtra has demonstrated how allotment of tiny homestead lands can transform lives....
 
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The Maharashtra government has lifted the ban on sale of Bt Cotton seeds supplied by Mahyco Seeds for the coming Kharif season "in public interest". The ban was imposed last year with the Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil being upset over the company allegedly for "not furnishing its marketing plan and failing to fulfil the seeds distribution obligation".
 
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When an average cotton farmer goes to sell his harvest in the market, he often has a vague idea about the right price for his produce or he does not have any option but to agree to a middleman’s typically skewed assessment of crop quality, weight and value.

To let farmers have more control over all the stages of production, they need an approach that works on collective action and a niche market development. To achieve these goals and to help farmers help themselves, Chetna Organic was established in 2004. It works in three Indian states: Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

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At Jackpot we work closely together with Chetna Organic in india - an association of 10,000 farmers who grow organic cotton on a smaller scale. So far we have been able to support the farmers and their families with education, training, infra-structure, healthcare, a rice mill and storage facilities. All with the money raised from the sale of the Jackpot donation t-shirts made of Chetna Organic cotton.
 
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Even as Bt cotton invaded Indian fields in the past few years, some farmer groups kept pushing for organic cotton. In 2009-10, production in India propelled world organic cotton production to an all-time high of 241,697 tonnes. But soon, many farmers realised that organic farming takes years of sustained efforts to get full benefits. With no support from government, that favours Bt cotton, many farmers are reverting to chemical farming.

Aparna Pallavi reports from the cotton belt of Maharasthra and Madhya Pradesh, and M Suchitra from Andhra Pradesh. Jyotika Sood writes about international non-profits that are venturing into alternative methods of sustainable cotton production.
 
 
Read full report featuring stories covering Chetna Organic farmers and interviews with Chetna Organic staff
 

KOLKATA: The demand for organic clothing made from non-allergic, eco-friendly and durable organic cotton for children, is on the rise in the country with people becoming more aware on health and environmental issues, an industry expert has said.
"People now have the exposure... They now understand that cotton clothes alone do not suffice for environment friendly and safe clothing," said Deepak Agarwal, CEO of Gron Stockholm, a key organic kidswear brand sold in the country.
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