Shop for Change in GlobalPost: Fair Trade in India

March 31, 2010

After visiting some of our Shop for Change certified cotton farmers in Maharashtra, Hanna Ingber Win writes about the ongoing challenges that poor farmers face and the opportunities that Shop for Change presents to improve their lives. 

AMRAVATI, India — Rajendra Panja Kadu lives with his family in a small, humble home in a farming village in central India. He works three jobs — farming his two acres, milking his water buffalo and working as a laborer on others’ farms — but Kadu, like millions of other Indian farmers, can barely make ends meet.

Kadu earns about 60,000 rupees ($1,300) a year and must rely on government ration cards to help him buy food, he says as he sits on his wooden bed. Mounds of cotton puffs waiting to be sold peek out from under the bed. Large sacks of soybeans lean against one wall. Paintings of Hindu gods adorn another.

When Kadu is low on cash, he must borrow about 10,000 rupees a year from moneylenders, who he says charge him a 5 percent monthly interest rate.

The farmer, who lives in Ghodghwan village in Amravati district, says he continues farming despite the difficulties because he has no better options. “It is my business. It is my job,” he said. “I don’t know anything else.”

Kadu manages, thought not always. Last year he had a motorbike accident and had to borrow 150,000 rupees — more than double his annual earnings — from friends and relatives to pay the medical bills.

A non-profit organization called Shop for Change is trying to improve the lives of Indian farmers like Kadu by supporting and formalizing fair trade practices and giving those farmers better access to a market interested in buying fair-trade products.

Read the rest of the article here

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