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Showing posts tagged “rice”

Hardeep Singh, President of Shahdevpur Village Club/Sunstar Rice in North India, pictured with his wife Anrandeep and relative, Shanti.


After joining the Fairtrade programme we had a better quality of inputs, such as seed and fertilizers. And the Fairtrade Premium enabled us to build this beautiful road which means we can access the farms much more easily. We got a better market price, plus an organic bonus of 400 rupees per 100 kg. The rice is also collected straight from our house; we don’t have to go to the market to sell it any more.

Before joining Fairtrade the quality of the groups rice wasn’t high. One reason for this was that they used rice from the previous harvest to plant as seed for the next year, which resulted in low quality yields. Now Sunstar provides them with the inputs each year on an interest free loan.

The Shahdevpur Village Club used part of its Fairtrade Premium to build an access road to the rice fields and to set up an organic composting unit. Sunstar has its own organic seed production to produce better quality seeds. In the future Hardeep his village would like to use the Fairtrade Premium to build a computer centre for the children.

© Didier Gentilhomme

Get Your Fairtrade Rice & Raisins Here! Stories from Biofach

I love the way Fairtrade makes the world that bit smaller; that it connects people across continents and cultures, all with a common goal of making global trade fairer.

Like me and Himanshu Baghel. I never thought I would see him again, and yet there he was, just a few stands down from us at the Biofach fair.

Himanshu works for Agrocel, Indian producers of Fairtrade and organic basmati rice. He helped organize my trip to their farms just over a year ago, calmed me down on the phone when I was stranded at Delhi airport. I walked through their paddy fields, saw the rice being processed and bagged up. I watched farmers using laser-land leveller and rice-sifting machinery that they had bought with the Fairtrade Premium.

I was obviously curious to hear how Agrocel had developed since our last encounter. Good news - their Fairtrade sales have increased to around 60 percent of production. But Himanshu is determined to achieve more.

“We are happy with the Fairtrade system, the farmers are happy but what we need is more market,” he tells me. “There is so much potential for doing good with the farmers, but we need more sales to do that”.

To help achieve this, Agrocel are encouraging farmers to diversify into other products. Raisins are their latest offering. But finding a Fairtrade buyer is now the problem. Their raisins are relatively expensive compared to other countries, and rather pale in colour. But I can vouch for the taste, and the great work that is behind it.

So who’s interested in buying?

After my first days in the North of Delhi, I travelled to laid back Rayagada, a small city situated in Orissa; this rather rural state is situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and considered as the ‘Indian cotton belt’. Together with Sureel, Liaison Officer-India, we visited Agrocel, a cotton farmers’ group.
 
During the first day, we spent some time with the farmers to review the achievements of the past months. We discussed their challenges and their Fairtrade Premium projects (they received about INR 300,00 last year). We brought them some copies of the brochure ‘Fairtrade and you’ translated in Oriya, the language spoken in Orissa. Although the farmers understand Hindi, the national language, they were very happy to receive a Fairtrade document in their own language.
 
On the next day, some of the 600 farmers of Agrocel proudly showed us their latest Fairtrade Premium investment, a water pump. Since the cultivation of cotton requires a lot of water to irrigate the fields, they had to rent this equipment in the past, a cost that cut down their margins. They now have their own water pump, which gives them more flexibility and a better income; besides reducing their costs of production. They can also use the water pump for secondary crops, such as maize, paddy and vegetables. They told us that they have now doubled their income thanks to the water pump and the secondary crops. Agrocel farmers are very enthusiastic about their Premium projects and do not lack of ideas for the coming years: they are now planning to build bio-fertilizer facilities, latrines and a small solar electricity plant for the villages.
 
We couldn’t leave the village without paying our respects to Ganesha, the famous Hindu God currently being celebrated throughout India. In every village there is a temporary colorful altar, beautifully decorated with offerings, incense, and lit up at night with hundreds of neon lights. I even received for the occasion my first ‘tika’, the red dot on the forehead!  

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.

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

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

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