Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK) , India. is a cooperative of more than 3,200 small
scale farmers in Kerala, SW India.
FTAK was set up in January 2006 by members already organised into farmers’ movements
aimed at tackling the widespread problem of farmers' indebtedness and food security.
For the first time since the Keralan government liberalised the market, there is
predictability and income security in the lives of cashew farmers.
FTAK’s members in Kerala have used some of their premium to pay for a disaster management
fund. This is very important especially for the farmers on the hillsides. At monsoon
time there are landslides which can wreak havoc. Government aid is often delayed
and inadequate and the farmers need immediate assistance especially when they are
left homeless and their crops destroyed.
Much of the premium is being spent on facilities for adding value to crops, something
which will benefit the entire community. For example most of the farmers also grow
Fairtrade spices and the farmers who produce pepper find that white pepper sells
for a higher price than black. So there is a proposal to create a white pepper manufacturing
unit as a common facility, one that can be used by everyone.
Wild elephants trespass in the farms from the local forests. Wanting to protect their
crops, the farmers often fight back and are mauled by the animals or kill them first.
FTAK believes farmers, their trees and the elephants need to be protected and have
studied ways of keeping the animals at bay without hurting them. They came up with
the idea of investing the Fairtrade premium in solar panels which will power an electrified
fencing around the farms. This will provide a very mild shock which would deter but
not injure the elephants. So FTAK and Liberation will be proud to supply ‘elephant
“This company is tremendously encouraging and motivating for our farmers. The farmers
tell each other ‘We are selling ourselves! We cannot ever compromise on quality.’
If someone brings along low quality nuts he will have five or ten farmers pouncing
on him telling him , ‘We need to be more careful - our future is in the high quality
of what we provide to Liberation’“
Tomy Mathew, FTAK
Watch Tomy Mathew speak about Fairtrade, farmer ownership and food security in Kerala.
“We want people in real dire straits to be able to access these funds very quickly.
If someone is contemplating drastic action – and some farmers do when they are terribly
in debt – there’s a door they can knock on.”