Meet the world’s first Fairtrade Ashwagandha farmers

6 May 2024   |   Caly McCarthy, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
A farmer separates the roots from the leaves of Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha has long been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine where it has been used as a stress relief supplement and natural source of vitality. Contemporary science identifies it as an adaptogenic herb—a plant that that can energize OR calm the body depending on the support it needs to return to homeostasis. And now, for the first time in the history of the world, there is a Fairtrade Ashwagandha on the market! Hats off to our Fairtrade brand partner, Organic India, for this incredible milestone!
To learn more, we joined in conversation with two farmers who cultivate the Fairtrade Ashwagandha that is now available online through Organic India (through June 30, 2024, use coupon code FAIRTRADE25 for 25% off your online purchase) and on-shelf exclusively at Whole Foods Market.

Please tell us a little bit about your background in farming Ashwagandha and about your community.

Namskar! I am Purushottam Patidar from Janakpur village, Javad Tehsil, Neemuch District. Our entire village belongs to the Patidar Community, and almost all of us cultivate Ashwagandha. I have been collaborating with Organic India for four years now, and personally, I’ve been cultivating Ashwagandha for the past eight years. The Ashwagandha grown in our village is renowned for its high quality, thanks to the favorable soil conditions. The Ashwagandha powder we produce is distinctly white, indicating its superior quality.

Five adults and one child stand in front of a field. Several of them hold freshly harvested Ashwagandha root.
Purushottam (far left) and family members: Uncle Kawar Lal Patidar (far right) and wife Ganga Devi (in red) and pose with freshly harvested Ashwagandha from their fields.

How did you first get involved with Fairtrade, and what does that partnership look like for you today?

After two years of striving, with the support of Organic India, our village has finally obtained Fairtrade certification. For the past year, we have been cultivating Fairtrade certified Ashwagandha. This certification not only enables us to command better prices for our produce in the market but also entitles us to an additional Fairtrade Premium of 15% of the crop value, which will be utilized for the development of our village and community.

Tell us about your work. What does your day-to-day look like?

Our daily routine typically starts at 4 o’clock in the morning when we tend to our cows and buffaloes in the cow shelter, ensuring they are well-fed, and their spaces are clean. Then, we proceed to our fields to carry out seasonal work or any necessary tasks. We carry our lunch with us to the fields and return home around 6 pm. After dinner and spending time with friends, villagers, and family, we retire for the night.

A farmer separates the roots from the leaves of Ashwagandha.
Organic India direct farmer partners cutting tops of Ashwagandha directly after harvesting.

What is the largest challenge your community faces today when it comes to the future of farming?

While we currently face no major challenges, in the past, obtaining fair prices for our Ashwagandha was a significant hurdle. However, since our association with Organic India, we have received not only better prices but also training and support. Although prices for other produce may be comparatively lower, we remain optimistic that continued organic cultivation efforts will eventually be recognized and rewarded with fair prices by companies or buyers like Organic India.

A pile of freshly harvested Ashwagandha root.
Kawar Lal Patidar, another Fairtrade Ashwagandha farmer in Janakpur, shares, “Thanks to our affiliation with Organic India and Fairtrade certification, we’ve overcome major hurdles in securing fair prices for our Ashwagandha, along with the added benefit of avoiding the hassle and expenses of traveling to distant markets.”

Ashwagandha has so many uses. Which do you find most powerful?

The benefits of growing Ashwagandha are numerous. It serves as a stress reliever and consuming Ashwagandha also promotes better sleep.

Any last thoughts you’d like to share?

On behalf of myself and my fellow farmers, I extend heartfelt gratitude to Organic India for their efforts in improving the lives of farmers.




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