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Heres a story from the Telugu Newspaper featuring experiences of Tribal women from Chetna Organic who have been following organic farming practices for almost a decade now. 

Read the Story in Telugu

For husband-and wife team Missy and Scott Tannen, founders of fair trade organic cotton bedding company Boll & Branch, the term "family business" doesn't just apply to their own family.

Missy and Scott Tannen met during their junior year at Vanderbilt University in 1997. It was a blind date, set up by their friends, to attend a Commodores football game. Scott, who never missed the players run through the tunnel and onto the field before the game, had to wait outside the stadium until halftime for a woman he never met before. When Missy finally showed up, Scott's annoyance immediately went away. They got married in April 2001, and now live in Chatham, New Jersey with their three daughters.

Nearly two decades after that first date, Missy and Scott co-founded Boll & Branch, the first fair trade-certified organic bedding company in the U.S. The company made close to $1.75 million in sales in its first year, and counts Bill Clinton and Shakira among its customers.

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Give me five more minutes’ signals Gualu Goud as he’s standing on top of one of his five compost heaps working the top layer with a hoe. I met Gualu earlier this month in a village in the eastern Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa). He’s been a cotton farmer for most of his life. Things were ok until about 10 years ago when yields started to drop even though he used increasing amounts of expensive chemical fertilisers. And looking at his soil he felt really bad, there was no life in it, he says.

In 2007 agricultural advisers from Chetna Organic, an Indian NGO that promotes sustainable farming methods in what’s known as India’s cotton belt came to his village and offered advice and training – like how make good compost and use it to heal the soil. Just six years later half of the 130 farmers in Bhimdanga village are farming organically, cotton and other crop yields are good, and Gualu has become an expert compost maker.

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On Aug 27, 2014, Pragathi MACS- a Chetna promoted cooperative based in Utnoor organised its Annual General Body Meeting at the newly established Pragathi Eco Centre in Jainoor. It was a moment of pride for the staff of Chetna Organic and the cooperative staff as they could finally organise the annual event on their own land.

With more than 50 Rangolis dotting across the entrance of the eco centre, the mood at the venue was that of celebration and festivitiy. Even as the 15 previous office bearers retired and new members elected, Pragathi MACs achieved the distinction of being the first Chetna cooperative to elect 50 % women as its board members. 

As election formalities continued, men and women from the villages (mostly 100% organic villages) voluntarily performed traditional dance and music, making the entire event a community organised event rather than a cooperative election. This was an event that reflected the pride of tribal farmers practicing a way of life that was in sync environment. Nearly 400 people participated in the event, making it a grand success.


Buoyed by the recent COFA and COAPCL board resolution to have atleast 50% women on all cooperative boards, Sri Chaitanya Cooperative members elected 4 women members to their cooperative board at the Annual General Body Meeting held in Repaka Village in Karimnagar District. Going a step further, they unanimously elected Sharada, a longstanding and proactive organic farmer with Chetna as their cooperative president.

The annual general body meeting was held on Sept 29, 2014, at the cooperative owned warehouse in Repaka village, constructed with funds from Fairtrade premiums and Community Development support from brands like Jackpot and donor agencies ICCO and Solidaridad. As election of office bearers to the cooperative was due with terms of previous office bearers nearing completion, members used the timing to fulfill the agenda set by COFA and COAPCL boards to have more women participation in all activities. In a body of 12 members, they elected six women to the board and four of them as office bearers.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014, Chetna Organic has turned its focus to increase women participation in all its activities and at all levels of the organization. As the next significant initiative, there is an effort to ensure 50% women representation in all farmers self help groups – which function as the base of Chetna’s unique institutional structure. 


On Sept 12, 2014, board members of COFA and COAPCL (all farmers) from Odisha, Maharashtra and Telangana converged in Jannaram, Adilabad for an exposure visit to Chetna farms in Adilabad clusters and for a quarterly meeting the next day (Sept 13, 2014). At the board meeting, along with a review of COFA and COAPCL activities and business plans, the board members made some observations and suggestions that will be incorporated into the plans of both the organisations in the next quarter. In a historic decision, the board passed a resolution to have atleast 50% women in both COFA and COAPCL boards by the next meeting. Going further down the institutional structure, a detailed strategy was evolved to ensure that all cooperatives have atleast 50% women on their respective boards. This marks an important milestone for Chetna, practicing and promoting 10 years of 'OrganiCulture'.

On Sept 13, 2014, Chetna Organic farmers from Maharashtra and Odisha arrived in Jannaram for an exposure visit to the farms, research centres and to learn about other organic activities being executed by Pragathi MACS – an associate of Chetna Organic Farmers Association in Telangana.

Farmer Field in Movada

The 26 member delegation began their tour of the area by visiting farms in the tribal village of Movada in Asifabad block where they saw organic agriculture in action- much like in their own clusters but adopting a slightly different package of organic practices.

Here they saw organic soil management with manures and bio mass, locally adopted crop varieties, cotton quality with super high staple length organic manures, botanical extracts units prepared and stored with every farmer, multiple/mixed cropping, intercropping system suitable for drought prone legumes (redgram, blackgram, green gram, field beans) and cotton inter-crop with red gram, black gram, castor, corn, jowar, marigold and vegetables.

Eco –Centre in Belgom Village

The delegation then moved to Chetna Organic’s Eco –Centre in Belgom village where a farmer owned barred plot of 2 acres has been converted into a demonstration plot to show case integrated organic agriculture practices. Here they saw how a live stock centred approach to agriculture can result in increased income for small holder farmers in rainfed conditions.

The site here features a cow shed for 15 cows complete with drinking water and fodder channels, a bio-gas Plant: with digester tank, slurry tank, bio gas light and one gas stove, a vermi-Compost Unit roofed with palm leaves, roof water harvesting tank, rain water pond with a coracle and bamboo fencing, fodder cultivation, cotton varieties plots, mini poultry unit, rabbit unit, nursery saplings production, vegetable cultivation, fisheries, bio mass plants, fodder trees, fruit plants, floriculture, green manuring and green leaf manuring, efficient irrigation methods, soil and water conservation structures, forestry, and liquid manure units.

Farmer Field, Parda

M Somu and M Mahadu’s 7– acre plot is a manifestation of Chetna’ s vision.

In four acres following intercropping and mixed cropping patterns they grow a combination of food crops and cash crops like cotton, wheat, maize, ground nut and millets like Sorghum.They grow legumes, vegetables and oil seed crops - all organic. In one acre they have a Teak and Henna plantation. In the same plot in the remaining one acre they also have an orchard where they grow Mangoes, Guava, Custard Apple, Berries and orange. They use their open well for irrigation and grow crops in both cropping seasons of the year. There are Glyricidia, Pongameia and neem which serve as bio-mass. They use only organic pesticides and organic manures as recommended by Chetna Organic. The entire family of Mahadu (4 daughters and 3 sons) contribute their time and effort to the farm and are self sufficienct for food. With technical support from Chetna Organic, the family today grows a wide range of vegetables like Tomato, Brinjal, Chilli, Gourds, Beans, Onion, Garlic and leafy vegetables that take care of their food requirements for the entire year, leaving  enough surplus that can generate a handsome income from the market.

Pragathi Eco-Centre, Sirpur-U mandal

The next stop for the delegation was the recently set up Eco-centre in Raghapur on a spread of six acres land purchased by the Pragathi MACS. This eco centre was set up asa demonstrative project for the organic farmers on how to utilize the organic outputs from livestock for their organic farming.

The centre has been set up as a one stop shop for the entire spectrum of organic practices where farmers can learn everything from seed to harvesting.

Here they witnessed the following practices:

  • Soil and water conservation structures and soil fertility mesures like Mini NADEP Unit
  • Mini vermin – cost unit
  • Amruth Jalam unit
  • Amruth Compost production-Unit
  • Fish Tonic unit
  • Liquid farm yard manure unit
  • Top Ten Preparation Unit
  • Panchakaya Unit (mini)
  • Dobolkar method under soil fertility improvement- on shallow soil patch
  • Green manuring and insitu
  • Bio mass plants
  • Farm pond.
  • Vegetable cultivation and Fruit plant cultivation
  • Sunhemph seed production, fodder crops,
  • Mixed cropping and Multiple cropping system,
  • Medicinal crops like Aswagandha, Alfalfa
  • Seed Production
  • Sapling production-Nursery unit
  • Botanical and organic nutrients preparation and application
  • Rain water harvesting
  • Efficient water using methods (Drip, Sprinklers) mulching
  • Drudgery reduction tools
  • Floriculture Agro forestry plants - teak, bamboo
  • Dry-Paddy-Rainfed
  • Aromatic-plants
  • Vegetable nursery


MAAD Activities, Mahagaon School

The farmers also met the children of Mahagaon Tribal Residential School where the Chetna –Peace by Peace cotton project – MAAD- is being executed. The visitors were treaded to a enthralling dance performance by the girl students of the school which reflected the local culture of the region. This was followed by a visit to the vegetable garden and art classes and the laboratory supported by the PBP cotton project.    

100% Organic village, Patelguda

The last stop for the delegates was the 100%organic village of Patelguda where they visited yet another organic farm and intereacted with farmers. The exposure visit culminated at the Pragathi Eco centre where the Cooperative members hosted a dinner in the farm for the visiting farmers.  

On Aug 15,2014, celebrating India's 68th Independence day, Chetna launched the 3DPnL program in Lebed village in Kalahandi district with a host of activities. Along with hoisting the tricolour, villagers participated in the Shramadaan (voluntary work) and planted saplings. As host to the 3DPnL program (3 Diemensional Profit and Loss Program), Lebed village along with Dhanora (P)village in Adilabad, Telangana will become epicentres of an intensive pilot project that will first stream a number of sustainable development CSR initiatives to these two villages. This will be followed up with the 3 DPnL study, an exhaustive and meticulous quantitive and qualitative survey to accurately measure the economic, social, cultural and environmental impact of the CSR interventions. Results of this study will be further used to scale up the CSR initiatives in other areas. The 3DPnL program is a joint initiative by Chetna Organic, C&A foundation and the Pi Foundation and supported by a group of brands buying organic and Fairtrade cotton from Chetna who have joined forces to form the "The Chetna Coalition".

A journey that began with a small farmer in a nondescript village called Choupanguda in Adilabad 2004 has now reached scale expanding to more than 13,775 acres in six mandals and 154 farmer groups.

Read Full Story (in Telugu)



On Aug 15,2014, celebrating India's 68th Independence day, Chetna initiated the 3DPnL program in the 100% organic village of Dhanora (p) in Adilabad district with a host of activities. Along with hoisting the tricolour, villagers participated in the Shramadaanam (voluntary work), planted saplings and burnt packets of Bt cotton seeds. As one of the two villages (Lebed in Bhavanipatna Odisha will be the second village) hosting the 3DPnL program (3 Diemensional Profit and Loss Program), Dhanora (p) village will become the epicentre of an ambitious study that will quantitively and qualitatively ascertain the economic, social, cultural and environmental impact of CSR activities taken up by the Chetna Coalition - a group of garment brands who have joined forces to make the cotton supply chain more sustainable. The partners in the coalition are:


  1. PrAna (Columbia Group)
  2. Stanley and Stella
  3. Under The Canopy
  4. Loomstate
  5. Kowa
  6. Pants to Poverty
  7. Dibella India
  8. Kuyuchi


  1. Armstrong (Vertically integrated – specializing in knits)
  2. Rajlaksmi (Vertically integrated – specializing in knits with some woven)
  3. Caos (Garment factory – specializing in wovens with some knits – with FLO and GOTS certified suppliers)

The 3DPnL Project will first focus on two villages, in Lebed village in Odisha and Dhanora(P) in Telangana.  These villages will have 100% of their production procured by the coalition and will be analyzed thoroughly through the 3DPnL to provide very thorough information on the economic, social, cultural and environmental impact of the coalition all along the value chain (as the analysis will also be done in the spinning mill and garment factory) and provide a management system to enable year on year improvements.  

Watch this space for more activities in the coming days.


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