Lalita Bai is an Indian cotton farmer in the Pratibha-Vasudha cooperative in the Madhya Pradesh State. Cotton here is grown in predominantly black cotton soil under both rain-fed and irrigated conditions. Lalita is a member of a Fairtrade Producer Organization and is able to take advantage of the support for farmers that comes through Fairtrade’s democratic and farmer-centered cooperatives. Lalita and her family farm with organic agricultural practices, which has helped to raise their income by decreasing some farming expenses for things like manufactured chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Lalita is providing a model for organic farming practices for the farming community in India. As one of the thousands of cotton farmers in the Fairtrade certified Pratibha-Vasudha cooperative in Karhi, Lalita exchanges valuable information for continual improvement of sustainable and profitable farming practices.
As demand for organic cotton has grown around the world, many Fairtrade cotton farmers in India are focusing on organic farming operations. About 60-75% of Fairtrade cotton is organic certified! But for those farmers still hoping to capitalize on organic cotton demand, transitioning to organic growing is a long and financially challenging process. To support cotton farmers switching to organic systems, Fairtrade has a new Organic Differential, an extra sum of money on top of the Fairtrade Minimum Price for organic cotton.
One of the many ways that the Pratibha-Vasudha cooperative has used their Fairtrade Premium funds is to support the education of farmers’ children. With the Premium, they’ve constructed the Vasudha Vidhya Vihar school in Karahi and purchased buses to help students reach the school safely. This has been especially impactful for Lalita’s family, as she has two children who have been able to complete their education and achieve their academic goals.
In a world where cotton farming can be a challenging and sometimes exploitative industry, Lalita Bai represents a glimmer of hope for farmers everywhere.
Want to learn more about Fairtrade’s impact on cotton farmers? Read this impact report from 2020.