“In my village, cotton farming is hard work and families often struggle to make a living, particularly now that the rains are increasingly unpredictable,” says BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar. This is a situation echoed across rural Gujarat, a coastal state in India, where climate change and extreme weather are leading to water scarcity and increasing salt levels in the soil, making it harder to cultivate crops. Meanwhile, high input costs (fertilisers, for example) and low yields are putting a further strain on cotton farmers’ livelihoods.
Discover the Latest Better Cotton Initiative Story From the Field: BCI Farmers in India Form Their Own Farmer-Owned Collective and Improve Their Livelihoods
An enterprising group of BCI Farmers, with support from BCI Implementing Partner Ambuja Cement Foundation, have founded their own Farmer Producer Organisation, putting themselves at the forefront of continuously improving their members’ performance. The organisation helps its members — all of whom are licensed BCI Farmers — to save costs and achieve fairer prices for their cotton, while developing new ways to boost their income.
Quotations from BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar
“It all began back in 2012, when a group of us BCI Farmers in Kanakya village set up a committee to help other farmers in our community use pesticides and fertilisers more efficiently. We wanted to promote plant-based natural alternatives, but they weren’t readily available locally, so we had to find a way to make it easier for farmers to gain access to these products at reasonable prices.”
“The pesticide dealers cheated the farmers because often they didn’t see through their hard selling techniques and marketing promises. We want to stop this exploitation of farmers in our community.”