agrocel organic cotton farmers

AGROCEL

Agrocel supports over 40,000 organic and Fairtrade farmers in India. People Tree has partnered with Agrocel for 10 years. The organic and Fairtrade certified cotton grown by Agrocel farmers is transformed into beautiful clothing by Assisi Garments in Southern India.

WHY ORGANIC COTTON?

Cotton clothing is something most of us wear every day, but we might think twice if we knew what it takes for it to reach the high street.

Cotton is grown mostly in developing countries where, if not grown organically, production is reliant on dangerous pesticides. These pesticides are so toxic that they cause an estimated 20,000 deaths and three million chronic health problems each year. Year after year, farmers have to use increasing amounts of pesticides on their crops just to produce the same amount of cotton as the pests gradually build up a resistance to the chemicals.

This forces many cotton farmers into a spiral of debt, as the purchase of agricultural chemicals eats into their meager profits. In India, thousands of farmers have committed suicide because they have fallen into debt and they become desperate when they cannot repay aggressive money lenders.

According to Shailesh Patel, Project Manager for Agrocel:

“There is now a desperate need to do things differently as the situation is a struggle for the farmers…If we do proper planning and development activities like Fair Trade we can change business to support rather than undermine them."

HOW AGROCEL PROVIDES AN ALTERNATIVE

Agrocel provides Indian cotton farmers with an alternative way of farming cotton and helps farmers go organic: they have developed natural farming methods and natural pesticides to control the pests. Farmers use chili, neem, garlic and soap instead of expensive and harmful chemicals, saving the farmers up to 3000 rupees per acre.

At Agrocel, women are paid the same as men and given paid maternity leave. Farmers receive a pension, health insurance and good medical facilities. Farmers are paid a premium for organic and Fair Trade cotton. These premiums make a huge difference, funding clean water for drinking and bathing and improving the local schools. The premiums also support a savings scheme for female farmers that trains women in financial literacy, helping them save and plan for the future.

Agrocel farmers work in harmony with their land, from sowing seeds to harvesting. Protecting the land and water ways is labour-intensive, but provides jobs for more people and protects their health in the long term. Farmers have used organic and Fairtrade cotton as a way to help them escape from money lenders, set up organic cotton seed banks, rebuild their lives and strengthen their communities.