From Sasha Caldera: Indian cotton farmers maneuver between Fair Trade, Monsanto, and debt in search of better life
Sasha Caldera is a member of Fair Trade Vancouver’s Board of Directors. As part of his research for his M.A. thesis, he recently left for India to visit a number of Fair Trade cooperatives. The following is a post about cotton in India and the challenges that farmers must face.
Indian cotton farmers maneuver between fair trade, Monsanto and debt in search of better life
A spotlight on the challenges that Indian cotton farmers face in providing our clothes
Mumbai, Maharashtra—As one of the most controversial cash crops in the world, cotton is heavily subsidized by developed countries and subsequently dumped onto markets, lowering world prices. As a result, cotton producers in developing countries, in particular Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin, are unable to compete with this cheap cotton, and it's no coincidence that West African nations import cotton from the United States, despite having an edge in cotton production.
These systemic barriers to trade are what continue to drive many activist campaigns around the world. While acknowledging the macroeconomic circumstances, there exists equally pervasive domestic challenges faced by cotton farmers in rural India.
The roots of poverty
As a member of Engineers Without Borders Canada, I was taught early in my career to always address the root causes of poverty. Recently, I had the great fortune of participating in a focus group discussion with cotton farmers in a small village near Halvad, Gujarat. As chai (tea) was sipped and crickets chirped, each farmer took turns in describing the...
Read more at the Vancouver Observer