By John Madeley, Miles Litvinoff
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Extra info for 50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade
All Agrocel’s cotton is grown by environmentally sensitive methods, and the farmers increasingly seek organic certification. The company pays producers 8 per cent above prevailing market prices. And there are plenty of other advantages for cotton farmers apart from a fair and steady price. “With fair trade, each farmer belongs to an association,” Shailesh points out. ” Agrocel offers a range of support services. Its twelve centres across India support thousands of farmers by selling them good quality inputs at fair prices, providing advice and training in sustainable and organic production, arranging farmer-to-farmer skill-share programmes and seminars, and running demonstration plots.
In 2002, the crisis reached catastrophic proportions. Coffee prices plummeted to 30-year lows, with the result that many of the big commercial farmers could no longer afford to harvest their crop and laid off full-time and seasonal labour. It was a price fall that hit workers very hard. Thousands of out-of-work coffee workers and their families were reduced to setting up makeshift roadside camps. They only survived thanks to food donations from concerned local people and businesses. “Most people who worked on large coffee plantations lost their jobs,” said Blanca.
The last two years have seen inadequate rainfall. The irrigation scenario is frustrating, and water resources are fast drying up. An unregulated open market and private usurers have tightened their noose around the debt-ridden cotton farmers. [ 40 ] 50 R E A S O N S TO B U Y FA I R T R A D E Aged just 30, for example, Maharashtra state cotton farmer Lokeshwar Keshavrao Bhoyar took his life by jumping into his dried-up well in October 2005. Lata, his widow, is now a day labourer cotton picker, earning 2 Indian rupees (3 pence) per kilo.