Field Trip: OCA Farm Programme Experience
During the final day of the Conference we organised a field trip where guests witnessed the OCA Farm Programme first hand and spoke with organic cotton farmers about their experiences. The farmers we met are small and medium holders from the district of Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh. They mainly belong to tribal communities or other marginalized communities with scarce access to resources. The farmers only have a few alternative sources of income apart from agriculture, so cotton is a significant cash crop in the region, ensuring high dependency for these farmers to sustain their families.
The farmers we met were a mixed group of in-conversion and organic cotton growers. Pratibha Syntex works with OCA as a part of the Farm Programme, where it provides the farmers with financed quality non-GM seeds, training, and advisory support throughout the season and commitment to procure seed cotton at a rate higher than the market price (by adding a brand backed premium payment). Some farmers have set up demonstration plots as lead farmers of their community and showcased the best practices of organic cotton farming. Others have come together as a community to set up nurseries and bio-input centres – all contributing to uptake and improvement in organic cotton production.
Growing together: exploring sustainable agriculture practices in Satrundi Village – The first stop of the field visit was at Satrundi Village, in the Petlawad district of Madhya Pradesh, approximately 3 hours away from Indore. Pratibha Syntex has implemented the OCA farm projects there.
Visit Demonstration plots: under the OCA Impact Funding Initiative, lead farmers in the community have set up demonstration plots with technical support and training from the IP. These plots (replicated and set up across other states under the Farm Programme) aim to showcase best practices under organic and regenerative cultivation systems.
Bio-input Production Centre: adoption of sustainable farming practices requires a supportive ecosystem, and access to bio inputs is one of the biggest challenges for organic farmers in India. We visited a community-led production centre where organic farmers can easily buy affordable bio inputs.
After witnessing how small marginal organic cotton farmers are developing their ecosystem to meet the demands of growing organic, we headed to Ratambha village, approximately 45 minutes from Satrundi, to visit a group of dynamic organic women farmers running an enterprise.
Empowering women and nurturing the community: a visit to Ratambha Village’s Women SHG Led Community Nursery – Women are major contributors of the agriculture workforce. In Ratambha the women Self Help Groups led community nursery initiative – bringing them and their efforts to the forefront and to showcase their efforts within the agricultural space.
Celebrating the farmer: appreciation, recognition, and cultural festivities at the Farmers’ Convention – We rounded off the day with a short visit to a Farmers’ Convention hosted by Pratibha Syntex. It was momentous occasion, as approximately 2000 farmers gather to be honoured for their dedication and hard work to promote the organic cultivation of crops, thereby contributing to a healthy ecosystem, enriched soil, and overall environmental sustainability goals.
The event featured cultural performances and ended with a traditional, local Indian lunch. Bart Vollaard, Executive Director of OCA, expressed his gratitude to the organic cotton farmers at the convention for their dedication and contribution.