Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture

Adopting fair trade practices

I am working with Attappady Hills Area Development Society in Palakkad district.  We are working for the eco restoration of the Attappady Valley.  The population of tribes in this area is 40% of the total population and they are involved in agriculture for their sustenance.  Rest of the population cover other caste people and they are also in the lower ladder of economic status.  They are also farmers.  All of them face the same problem with the marketing of their produces.

The natural resource development efforts of AHADS, through community based organizations, on participatory and watershed mode, during the past ten years, have resulted in rejuvenation of streams and wells that have dried up two decades ago. Obviously, farmers who have fled the Eastern Attappady hills in search of alternate livelihoods, abandoning their lands have resumed cultivation on the rejuvenated tracts over the past three four years.
On resuming farm produce once again, the farmers had to brave the middle men who eat away a major chunk of the margin due to them.

We, the staff members used to discuss the success stories from your magazine and it really helped us in organising different programmes.  And now came in handy LEISA ‘s efforts and stories to the desperate farmers. During our discussions with the community we used to quote success stories from LEISA magazine.  Once we discussed about the fair trade activities with the farmers of Eastern Attappady and they were really impressed with it.  Later we visited the Key Stone Foundation at Kottagiri (which was the author of the article on fair trade) and we had discussions with the key persons of that organisation.

Later the farmers in the eastern region organised and formed a cooperative called FARMA.  AHADS facilitated a farmers meet in which the community discussed in detail their threats and opportunities and thus was born FARMA on September 1, 2008.
Its main objective is to support the farmers to sell their produce at reasonable price.  The farmers enrolled with the cooperative are marketing their produce through FARMA and they are getting a fair price for their produce. The byelaws for the cooperative have since been finalized and FARMA is to be registered as a cooperative shortly. The vision of FARMA is to function as an independent body to support fellow farmers financially and technically after a year or two when the AHADS project winds up. A collection center with amenities like drying yard, storage facility, collection and distribution center etc., is currently being constructed by FARMA by the assistance of AHADS at a township called Anakatty within the project area.

Source: Shri Umesh.S, Attappady Hills Development Society,
Agali, Kerala
Email: appusnair@rediffmail.com

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