Interview with Atul Narania, CEO of Zameen Organic

March 8, 2010

Zameen Organic is one of Shop for Change’s certified producer organisations, working with 5,000 farmers in rural Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.  We recently spoke with their CEO, Atul Narania, who told us a little bit about Zameen Organic and its partnership with Shop for Change.

Can you give us a brief overview of Zameen Organic?
Zameen Organic is a farmer owned agribusiness organisation established to provide a sustainable way to improve livelihoods of farming communities in India.  We focus on fair trade, organic and pesticide free cotton.

What is your vision for the growth and development of Zameen?
Our vision is constantly evolving, but we’re centered around ensuring that we connect one end of value chain to the other by providing market access to producers and a transparent supply chain to brands.

What we’re looking at is a producer owned entity where 51% is farmer owned- it’s a unique and interesting model.  The value chain itself is fairly complex, and for an organization working in farming communities, it’s difficult to involve producers and have a transparent supply chain.  We work with a consortium of processors in consolidating this value chain.  We want to provide sustainability and to extend mechanisms for fair trade and organic practices.  We’re also looking in business areas, especially in markets for food intercrops.

How does Shop for Change Fair Trade fit into this vision?
We’ve been particularly enthused with Shop for Change, and we’ve been involved with the organisation at a variety of levels. We are enthused because Shop for Change has the key aspect of promoting producer organisations like ours and we get a chance to work within the entire ecosystem of fair trade in India.  Shop for Change in that sense enables us to reach our markets faster, particularly in terms of the domestic market.  Traditionally our market has been international, and Indian customers will be warming up to the concept of fair trade and we would like to be there with Shop for Change as that happens.

How have you seen fair trade impact the lives of cotton farmers in Zameen Organic?
Our focus has been to create sustainable positive change, and in that aspect our work is never complete; you never fully achieve the social objective you set out to.  But you achieve incremental impact each year, and in the regions in which we work- Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh and Amravati in Maharasthra- we’ve worked with farmer organisations to deliver this impact, and to that extent, the fair trade movement has created momentum and positive direction.

What do you think is the future of fair trade in India?
The fair trade movement in India is particularly relevant- the farmers and producers and craftsmen don’t get supported nor do they get the dividends that customers would like to share with them.  This movement is relevant at a variety of levels, at the society level, and it’s a way of getting these dividends to producer communities and start building the equilibrium between producers and consumers.

We’re proud to partner with visionary producer organisations such as Zameen Organic, and we will continue to share more with you about their work.

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