The project “Fair Trade Supply Chain Development in India and Nepal” is coming to its successful completion, paving way for a set of actions to make cotton a trendy, effective and sustainable option for livelihood generation, consumption and a better environment.
The project is supported by the European Union. Fair Trade Forum – India, Formaper-Italy, CTM Altromarceto-Italy and Fair Trade Group Nepal are the partners of the project. The project launched in March 2012 is getting concluded formally in the month of February 2012. While assembling for the concluding seminar at Tirupur and in Kathmandu, the partners will discuss the further dissemination and adaption of the Fair Trade Supply Chain model developed under the project in India and Nepal.
The project has already created many visible and sustainable impacts through functional networking created between actors in the farming, extraction, production and consumption of cotton. Above all, the project consortium could respond to one of the long standing demand for ‘Fair Trade – Organic cloth’ from the Fair Trade organisations working on garments on accessories. During the last three years the project team could expand the very partner base into a virtual consortium of farmer group, cotton processing (ginning, spinning, weaving, knitting) and garment making organisations, which agree to follow Fair or Ethical and organic practices.
During the life span of the project, Chetna Organic took active in organic farmer group formation, training and capacity building. IIRD (Institute of Integrated Rural Development), VOFA and KVSASS were the other organisations of which farmers have taken part in the training at farmers’ level. More than 1192 farmers were trained directly on Fair Trade and Organic practices under the project.
The project helped the farmers with seed selection, preparation of the land for farming, farming methods, documentation as per Fair Trade & organic certification requirements and good practices in handling of the crop.
In June 2011 State level Pre-season training was conducted on Internal Control Systems (ICS) for organic and fair trade certification. Simultaneously follow up visits were also organised to build up capacities of farmers working with the groups in the project consortium in soil fertility management, productivity enhancement, plant protection and management of internal control system, management for organic cultivation and fair trade certification. Training of Trainer program was also orgnaised at the beginning as well as in mid-season to further support the farmers. These trainers extended on the field training to the farmers.
The farmers were also helped in seeds procurement and harvest. Procurement of seed was planned based on estimated area under each cluster prior to the season for advance booking for non-GMO Bunny seed with Nuziveedu Seeds Company, Hyderabad and Padma Seed from ARAS. The seed lots were systematically tested for any possible contamination with GMO seed. After ensuring that no contamination was found, the seeds were distributed to the farmers through self-help groups.
Towards ensuring increase in production in the 2011 cropping season, approximately 60% of the farmers planted hybrid seeds while F2 seeds and varieties were used in 30% and 10% area respectively. Nipping after 90 days of sowing was also done for ensuring higher productivity. Majority of the farmers adopted the practice.
During the cropping diversified cropping systems was followed to ensure food and economic security, improvement of soil fertility and crop protection strategies aiming to prevent pest, disease and weed problems through optimization of the cropping system as a whole. Farmers adopted the cropping system with inter crops such as ‘cotton-red gram- green gram or ‘black gram-cotton-red gram. Soil fertility was also ensured by helping the farmers to prepare biomass, liquid farmyard manure / Amruth pani. Weeding (2-3 times) and harrowing (7-10 times) was also completed according to the need.
Towards managing pests effectively, farmers installed pheromone traps, yellow sticky boards, trap crops and foliar sprays. Soil fertility management was carried out through application of two to three ton compost. Seeds were treated with bio-fertilizers and microbial solutions.
Training on Pre-harvest and quality control was another important step. End of the season training sessions were targeted more at the yield estimation, certification, clean picking and procurement.
Since the project is aimed at ‘Fair Trade ‘ ‘Organic’ cotton, a training on ‘group certification system’ was organised by ‘ECOCERT for the staff of farmer level organisations. The training was helpful to understand the ways to update farmer level records in line with Tracenet system for group certification.
Another interesting example was the ‘trial plots’ prepared under the project towards developing a package of practices suitable to the specific area with respect to plant population. To demonstrate the standard cultivation practices, cropping systems, pest and disease management practices in cotton, a total number of 3 trail plots have been identified in the villages of Veni, Ekpala and Karli villages in Yavatmal, Amravathi and Akola districts respectively. The Hybrid seed production was also taken up during period in the plots.
The next part was networking with the processing organisations. During this phase the project team could develop partnerships with groups such as Assissi Garments, which has the capacity of ginning, spinning, yarn manufacturing dyeing and garment making. Assissi, whose products were already Fair Trade certified under FLO has later become a member of FTF-I. For FTF-I is it added the dual benefit as the
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organisation was also certified under the organic certification for its cotton products.
The support obtained from the regional office of Textiles Committee working under the aegis of Ministry of Textiles, government of India is the other significant achievement obtained during the period. With collaboration from the textile committee the project team could reach out to many spinning and fabric making SMEs who are interested to procure Fair Trade organic cotton.
Towards strengthening the market oriented networking under the project a team from FTF-I visited six Fair Trade organisations in Nepal in November 2012. The organisations visited include New Saddle, Association of Craft Producers, Sana Hastkala, Manushi and Mahaghuti. The visit was helpful to understand the requirements of the organisations related to Fair Trade cotton.
One of the greatest achievement that the project could reach so far relies in the internalization effort that was made towards the main counterpart enterprises. Indeed from the networking point of view it’s important to underline that the two farmers organisation COFA (Chetna) IIRD and the Assisi group in Tirupur have already acquired the status of partnership within Fairtrade Forum India. It is particularly important to underline this aspect because allows to internalize the whole process of production among the major stakeholders and at same time strengthen the role of FTF-I as organisation. Two other key enterprises, namely BKS and SFG are currently getting ready to apply for FTFI membership. The project also eventually initiated formation of an extended network for ‘Fair Trade organic cotton’ which is capable of benefiting the farmers, SME and Fair Trade groups, which produces fabric based Fair Trade products in India and Nepal.
For consumers the project offers a better model, which offers ‘Fair Trade Organic’ product. For Fair Trade producer groups, it offers potential sources for smooth supply of Fair Trade fabric. For farmers it offers more holistic approach of farming.