Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Fairtrade Price and quality

The Fairtrade minimum price for usual basmati rice from India is €243 a ton plus €30 Fairtrade social premium and €20 organic premium. The social premium can be invested in business, social or green projects agreed by a committee of selected representatives. The farmers have already received Fairtrade premium payments for sales to Switzerland and France and each of the village clubs has submitted proposal for community projects. Funds have been settled and dispersed to a number of projects which are now up and running:

Infrastructure improvements for schools and roads

Repair the broken boundary wall of a village primary school. Five groups plan to construct move toward roads from their villages to the farming fields in the vicinity which become inaccessible during the rainy season.

1. Raising the level of a school playground which is unusable during the monsoon season because of standing water.

2. Construction of a bus shelter exterior one village to protect waiting passengers from rain and sun.

3. Construction of a number of small bridges over drains which flood and make some villages out-of-the-way during rainy season.

Proposed Loan fund

Most of the farmers depend on one rice crop, and so one annual payment at harvest time, for 85-90% of their cash income. They have to take out loans during the year to buy seeds and inputs, to pay for various functions such as weddings and festivals and pay for health care and education. Usually they are at the mercy of local agents who charge a very high rate of interest and to whom they are in large debt. A revolving soft loans fund would enable members to reduce their debt and the capital support would grow through the interest payments.

Future projects

the farmers’ villages naturally have a primary school but especially few children from farming families go on to higher education and the villages lack primary health care services. The farmers want to look into how they can improve the chances of their children going on to university and the promise of funding village clinics or a local hospital. 

Members also want to set up family planning and green protection programmers and provide training for income generates schemes for women such as fruit and vegetable preserving and handicrafts.