Xavier Huchet, Head of Asia in Fairtrade’s Producer Services and Relations Unit, recently visited tea, rice and cotton producers in India with with Liaison Officer Anup Singh. Fairtrade International has a network of over 50 Liaison Officers around the world who provide support and training to producers.
After a 4 hour train ride from Delhi, we reached the city of Roorkee (Uttarakhand) to visit the rice farmers of Sunstar. Located at the foothill of the Himalayas, the area is famous in India for its Basmati rice grown in ideal weather conditions. Though the city was unusually quiet with most shops closed, Muslims in the area were celebrating Eid, the end of the Ramadan and the streets were full of stalls selling colorful and tempting sweets of all kinds.
Certified since 2006, the farmers of Sunstar that we visited sell about 80% of their rice as Fairtrade, and several Premium projects have been implemented in the course of the last years. One of their latest is a computer centre, which gives the farmers’ children the opportunity to learn computer science after school.
In an IT-friendly country such as India, computer science is key for children’s education, but tuition fees in private schools (about INR 300-500/ month) make it unattainable for many families. Hence the Sunstar farmers created their own computer centre, with much more reasonable fees (INR 150/ month).
The computer centre opened three months ago with 10 brand new computers and a teacher position filled by the son of a Sunstar farmer, who was previously unemployed.
Picture: Liaison Officer-India Anup Singh talks with a young student at the Sunstar computer centre