For many farmers, a sustainable, decent living wage is very hard to come by – especially for those from excluded communities.
Phia supports initiatives like the Eco-veg project in Tamil Nadu where farmers are improving their livelihoods and growing organic crops that are healthier for their customers. The project aims to reach 5,000 farmers from excluded communities, especially women.
So-called ‘agripreneurs’ help farmers cut cultivation costs by using sustainable organic approaches and fewer pesticides and increasing crop value through more effective supply chains and better marketing, including the establishment of warehouses, and strengthened links with retail chains, the biotech industry for farm products and technology, and banks for financial support.
Eco-veg has five main aims: improve profitability for small farmers, produce quality pesticide-free vegetables for consumers, improve soil health and reduce water consumption through organic farming, support the natural environment including birds, bees and butterflies, and create an alternate sustainable market for organic vegetables.
Behind the Eco-veg project is the Sustainable Agro Alliance (SAAL) which supports farmers to switch to sustainable organic farming. Organic vegetables produced by farmers in the Eco-veg programme are marketed under the SAAL brand.
Jesudoss, a farmer from an excluded community in Thankalacherry, developed an interest in organic farming after being affected by chemical pesticides. He was looking for ways to change his farming methods and discovered a fellow villager was involved in training and promoting organic cultivation.
He has gone completely organic since joining the Eco-veg project. His costs have come down and his yields of okra, tomato, onion, bitter gourd and aubergine on his eight acres of leased land have been higher.
His vegetables are healthy and tasty too, which keeps his customers happy.
Jesudoss is convinced that organic farming is the way forward and he now wants to produce a wider variety of vegetables to meet SAAL’s needs.
So far, 488 farmers have registered for organic farming through the project. In one season, these farmers produced 351 tons of organic vegetables.
SAAL plans to scale up Eco-veg in the next two years meaning almost 30,000 people – farmers and their families – could eventually benefit. Many more will get to eat more nutritious food with lower pesticide levels.
You can support livelihoods initiatives like the Eco-veg project in Tamil Nadu.
Giving to Phia will help us to build sustainable livelihoods for farmers from excluded communities, making a real difference to people’s lives in India.