The following article about one of our cashew trading partners, Fair Trade Alliance of Kerala (FTAK), appeared in yesterday’s on-line issue of the Guardian.
A walk through the annual Kerala seedfest, in the sultry heat of India’s Western Ghats, is like a walk through a proverbial garden of Eden; okra the size of a hand; deep purple coloured runner beans; 26 varieties of chillies from one village alone. The size and colours of multiple bananas on offer here make a mockery of the fact that your average supermarket sells just one type.
With women and men standing proudly alongside their produce, this celebration of seeds and biodiversity is the future of farming: it is abundant, resilient and most importantly, smallholder led.
As farmers cope with the dual crises of a changing climate and rising population, the debate rages about the future of agriculture, with large-scale agribusiness being pitted against smallholders. In one corner, agribusiness is perceived as more efficient and technologically savvy; in the other corner, the smallholder is portrayed as less productive and in need of charity. Scale is generally perceived as the measure of success in farming, as with everything else: farmers are effectively told to expand, innovate, or move on.
But a collective of 4,500 farmers who call themselves Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK) are at the annual gathering to demonstrate their own third way: small scale, innovative, market-embracing and sustainable.
Read the full article here.
Click here to read about a visit Equal Exchange made to FTAK in 2013.