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'Vandana Shiva's Fairtrade and organic message' by Mark Measures

At the Oxford Real Farming Conference in January and subsequently at the Organic Farm

Shop, Cirencester, Vandana Shiva spoke passionately about her Navdanya project in India

where she has very successfully supported small farmers. Navdanya was established over 30 years ago and is a non-governmental organisation which promotes biodiversity conservation, the rights of women and farmers, and seed saving.

Vandana actively encourages Fairtrade which provides an opportunity for producers, mainly

smaller scale farmers in the “Global South” operating to high social and environmental

standards to achieve a premium for their produce in the marketplace. She also sees organic

farming methods as central to her mission; the way we grow and produce food and manage

our soils and animals all impact on both the quality of that food, the effects on the

environment and on local wildlife.

Over 50% of Fairtrade producers worldwide are also certified Organic.

The issues faced in India are in many ways similar in the UK, although our farms may be

larger. We are all familiar with the abuse of power by supermarkets; in the first instance

small and family farmers are driven out of business, but ultimately it is the supermarkets’

impact on the environment, animal welfare and human health that is of real concern. Don’t

think that farmers keep 25,000 meat chickens in a single shed, stocked at 19 birds per

square meter, or routinely spray Roundup on your cereals pre harvest, or cause the Wye

and Teme to go red with soil just for the fun of it. Constant downward price pressure results

in shortcuts and compromise.

Around the world the Fairtrade element of farm certification ensures high social standards

and better payment for the farmer; when combined with organic certification, human

health, animal welfare and our environment is safeguarded.

Mark Measures

Mark is an organic farming adviser, working with farmers locally and internationally. He is a

partner in a mixed farm in the Clun Forest.


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