SUPPORTING ORGANIC FARMERS – A VISIT TO THE VILLAGE OF VILAPPURAM

By Anna Buchmann

I am a sucker for organic products. If I had the money, I would buy everything organic. Sometimes I just wonder around farmers markets and look at the produce – and get a kick out of it – and hence I was very excited to learn that one of the clients from the _SocialStarters programme are organic farmers.

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Kumari and Shivalingam established CARE society about 2 years ago with the aim to support farmer’s livelihood and promote organic farming. They teach organic farming techniques, run a seed bank, and inform people about the benefits of organic produce. In India, farmers struggle to make a living nowadays and often do not see any other escape than taking their own lives. Failed crops, illness, unexpected expenses – because their income is already very small, and volatile depending on weather conditions, any form of bigger payment threatens their livelihood to the extend that suicide becomes their only option. Kumari and Shivalingam try to give the farmers a more positive outlook by supporting them, and improve soil quality as well as produce quality through organic practices.

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Ruth and Andrea, the consultants that are working with CARE society, worked hard to cut out the middle man and get the products directly to the consumers. They discovered that Auroville is actually experiencing a shortage in organic millet, one of the main products grown by the farmers. Furthermore, the consultants are developed a price and cost structure, and started the process of obtaining an organic license. Finally, they prepared a funding presentation, as Kumari and Shivalingam will have the opportunity to pitch to a group of CEOs for financial and non-financial support.

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The office of CARE society is further outside in the countryside, in the village of Vilappuram. Together with Naveen, our local coordinator and translator, Andrea, Ruth and I left Auroville at 9am. In the car we listened to our favourite Tamil songs and watched the music videos. When we arrived at the village, Kumari proudly took us around and showed us the newly obtained millet processing machines, which were donated by an NGO.

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Then the real work started: together the team went through the power point presentation, filling in costs and deciding how much support to ask for. Kumari, who is an amazing cook, prepared lunch for us, and as is the case every day in India, I ended up eating far too much. After lunch they went through the brochure for the pitch, which will hopefully make them stand out. Fingers crossed – farmers in India really need the support!

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Adopted and edited from: https://developmement.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/a-day-in-the-village-of-vilappuram/

#JoinUs on a programme and volunteer with grassroots social entrepreneurs.

India – 24th October (6 weeks) || Brazil – 31st October (6 weeks) || India – 31st January (6 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 13th February (6 Weeks) || Brazil – 19th March (6 weeks) To apply, send your email with a cover note to info@socialstarters.org and clearly state in the subject heading which programme and what date you are applying for. If successful, you will invited to a Skype interview with one of the team! 

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