Some startling numbers to process: India is about 150 times the size of Wales with around 400 times more people, yet whilst an average farmer in Wales will have about 100 hectares, most farmers in India have a mere 1 hectare with which to support their family. 66% of Indians are farmers but 40% of them would gladly give up farming if they could as its all manual labour, having to make any tools they need and walking for miles for water for their plants. Sadly, some 20,000 farmers in India commit suicide every year.
It is no wonder that the work of Fairtrade is so valued amongst Mrunal Lahankar’s neighbours and friends. Fairtrade ensures that farmers get a fair price for their goods, cotton in this case. It really is that simple. With the fair price the people are empowered to organise and invest in their own community. They can re – invest in their crops, improve their farming methods and use the premium from the prices paid to improve their community. In Mrunal’s community the money has provided toilets; a water purification plant; a nursery of seeds for the women to grow and a recreation/child care centre for the youngsters to be safe whilst their parents are out in the fields. So far, 2224 farmers have been helped in Mrunal’s neighbourhood, and of course, their products are organic as they are “utilising naturally available resources” (Mrunal), not relying on pesticides or chemicals. However, due to economic fluctuations, only 30% of the cotton currently produced is sold as Fairtrade, the rest is all Fairtrade certified but cannot be sold because it is not being bought. So get down to ‘Marks and Spencers’ or ‘H&M’ to buy their Fairtrade cotton clothes from Hyderbad, India.