Who picks our organic cotton?
Chetna Organic is a unique 360° development intervention for smallholder farmer families primarily dependent on rainfed agriculture. Chetna was established with the primary aim of enhancing farmers livelihood options by making their farming systems more profitable and sustainable. Chetna promotes environmentally, socially and economically viable agrarian based livelihoods in ecologically depressed regions. Chetna work with marginalized farmers from different rural Regions in India namely Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra assisting them in making their farming a profitable occupation.
Chetna Organic was founded in 2004 with only 234 small farmers. In 2014 more than 15,000 farmers have already joined this small farmers’ association which is committed to organic farming. Today all these farmers strive to achieve food security, seed sovereignty and it has since transformed into a robust farmer owned program. Focusing on local resources and viable financing models has resulted in minimizing external risks associated with rain-fed agriculture and market dependence.
The use of pesticides is frowned upon among farmers because they have understood that the usage of fertilizer and genetically manipulated seed not only puts them in financial dependency but also deprives them of their livelihood in the medium-term because valuable nutrients are extracted from the soil. “Organic” is not a fashion phenomenon for our Indian small-scale farmers, They are using it to maintain their environment in a self-sustaining way which can be passed on to future generation in tact.
Chetna actively supports farmer training and eco-centers, skill development such as tailoring, establishing seed banks, creating safe water facilities and empowerment of women and children. Women and children play a significant role in the overall development of the rural communities. Despite the fact that women contribute more than 75% of all agriculture work they have little or no say in the decision making. Chetna envisages a model of development where women become informed decision makers in the community and children have access to quality food, healthcare and education. Through its cooperatives, Chetna Organic proudly owns a 10% share in Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills.