The Farmers’ Pride
Interview with Pravakar Meher, Project Director, Pratima
Pratima is about to become the second Fairtrade cotton producer organization in India to transition from contract production (whereby an exporter initially holds the Fairtrade certificate while farmers are organizing) to a full-fledged, farmer-owned small producer organization. Fairtrade International’s Reykia Fick caught up with Pravakar at the Textile Sustainability Conference in Istanbul.
“The most interesting part about Fairtrade for the farmers is leadership and ownership. It is a dream for them, owning their own organization and commanding all the responsibilities. This dream is about to come into effect.
“We’ve been three-and-a-half years in Fairtrade. Normally Fairtrade talks about a transformation from contract production to small producer organization in six years. We’ve done it in only three-and-a-half.
“It’s been great to be a part of Fairtrade. Producers are really enjoying being a part of it. We are setting an example for government to follow in our path. We are ensuring a minimum support price, which is so important but the government hasn’t yet been able to implement.
“Right now we have a kharif crop, which means it is rain-fed so we only have one cotton harvest in the year during the rainy season. Resources are very limited for the producers and many don’t have any other source of income.
“Now we are planning water projects, including plastic pipes that would give drip irrigation to the cotton fields. Then the farmers could have a second crop, and we could stop the migration of farmers away from the region.
“My message to consumers: Buy more Fairtrade so we can develop more!”
Photo: Pravakar (center) with Dr. Shreekant S. Patil, Principle Scientist Cotton Breeding at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad (left) and Ram Prasad Sana of Chetna Organic (right) at the Textile Sustainability Conference.