Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatane (JMS)

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organic cotton project

From field to market: sustainable livelihoods for cotton farmers & labourers
Project Area: Raichur district of Karnataka (Raichur and Manvi talukas)
Project summary: This project will focus on small cotton farmers and labourers in Raichur – one of the poorest districts in India. The aim is to reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of small cotton farmers and labourers by empowering them to lobby for fairer policy/institutional frameworks and realise fairer terms of trade in the cotton industry.

Expected outputs are:
• Farmers/labourers organised into Self Help Groups (SHGs) that enable them to develop a collective voice and negotiate with policy makers and supply chain actors
• Increased understanding of the cotton industry and the trade/policy barriers that negatively impact cotton farmers/labourers
• Strong linkages developed between SHGs, enabling effective collective action at district, state and national level
• More effective lobbying/advocacy on international trade issues related to the cotton industry
• Improved business performance of cotton farmers through better yields, better quality, better business management etc.
• Reduced production costs and improved personal/environmental health of communities Increased capacity of cotton farmers/labourers
• to market their products (cotton and bio-fertilisers and pesticides)
• Reduced dependency on cotton farming through the promotion of rotational crops

Beneficiaries: Direct beneficiaries will be 300 cotton farmers and 300 landless labourers in 20 villages in Raichur district, Karnataka state, India. Also by targeting labourers as well as farmers, the project targets the ‘hidden poor’ – the poorest members of the community. With an average family size of 5, this project will directly benefit 3,000 people (family members of farmers/labourers).
The cotton farmers and labourers will benefit from improved income, better working conditions, improved health and improved environmental conditions.

Project cost: The total project cost is £370,490. The project needs to raise £ 15000 by year 3 from the sale of cotton, organic inputs. DfID has agreed to fund the remaining £355,490.

Project duration: 3 years (August 2008 – July 2011). Activities will then continue without donor funds.

Project Activities:

Activity 1: Project planning and set-up. An initial planning meeting between Traidcraft Exchange (TX) and project partners will fine-tune activities, confirm roles/responsibilities, agree an action plan and develop detailed monitoring/review systems. Appropriate premises will be identified for the project office, equipment purchased and an office established, followed by an induction programme for the staff.

Activity 2: Research A baseline study will gather data on the 600 target farmers and labourers to enable us to monitor impact and identify needs/expectations.
In addition research will be commissioned to analyse:
• the legislative/policy framework;
• the impact of declining cotton prices on farmers/labourers;
• the domestic/international markets for Fairtrade/organic cotton etc.
The results of the baseline study/research will be shared with all key stakeholders.

Activity 3: Promoting collective and collaborative efforts 15-20 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) each of 10-20 small cotton farmers will be formed in Raichur. These village-level SHGs will enable access to a range of benefits (including government services) and will encourage collective working amongst farmers. A district level collective of cotton farmers and labourers (representing village level SHGs and other interested stakeholders) will also be established to focus on advocacy issues at a state and national level.

Activity 4: Awareness raising and promotion of Fairtrade/organic farming practices Awareness raising activities for the project, farmers/labourers rights and Fairtrade/organic cotton farming practices will include the production of materials (pamphlets, posters, adverts etc) and other activities (street theatre etc). A website will be developed to share project information with key stakeholders and other interested organisations.

Activity 5: Capacity building of cotton farmers A thorough training programme will build the capacity of farmers to convert to organic farming. A farmer will be selected from each SHG to host a demonstration plot to demonstrate organic cultivation techniques and technologies. Four full-time field co-ordinators will train & support farmers in organic cotton cultivation and production. The field co-ordinators will assist farmers to meet international Fairtrade/organic standards and gain certification.

Activity 6: Services to promote Fairtrade/organic farming: An agro-service centre will be set up to support organic cotton cultivation by providing: agricultural inputs (seeds, bio-fertilisers/pesticides, tools and equipment); low-cost/home-made agricultural remedies; drip irrigation equipment; production planning of main/rotational crops; technical support for input sourcing; purchase of raw material/ inputs etc. A revolving fund will help farmers buy goods/services in their 1st year of conversion.

Activity 7: National and international advocacy The project will lobby for improvements in domestic and international policies (e.g. national advocacy for government support of organic production and international advocacy against US/EU cotton subsidies that violate WTO trade rules). Priority areas affecting cotton farmers/labourers in Raichur will be identified through policy and supply chain research (activity 2). The SHGs and project staff will develop an advocacy plan on the basis of which policy position papers will be written and activities planned.

Activity 8: Pilot business initiative for landless labourers: The pilot business initiative will provide employment, training and income for landless labourers (particularly women) and support organic farming practices. 30 SHGs of 300 landless labourers (mainly women) will be formed to encourage labourers to demand their rights and access benefits. The SHGs will be supported to set up enterprises to produce and market bio-fertilisers and pesticides to support the agricultural operations of the cotton farmers.

Activity 9: Monitoring/review/dissemination. This will consolidate/disseminate outcomes and identify gaps for further action. A final review will be conducted by an external consultant. The review will focus on assessment of impact and identification of key learning. A dissemination workshop will be arranged to share learning, experiences and the results of the final review with stakeholders.

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