Special Correspondent

‘Bid to create an alternative egalitarian order’

Liberation-INPC aims to create an alternative market set-up for small-holder farmers

Meet is being co-hosted by FTAK, a collective of cashew growers from northern districts

KELAKAM (KANNUR): Role of small-holder farmers who actually grow their produce is usually weak in the supply chains, unless they are part of a community interest company (CIC) working under what is called the fair trade labelling system that guarantees better prices for their products.

Connecting these small-holder farmers to consumers and growers from other countries is the focus of an eight-day-long global meet of farmers who are part of the CIC initiative that began here on Sunday.

The event, in which growers from different countries are attending, has infused in the member farmers a new sense of being stakeholders in the trade of their own produce.

This village, situated nearly 65 km from the district headquarters, is hosting the global meeting of Liberation Foods CIC Ltd. and the International Nut Producers Cooperative (INPC), London-based CIC initiatives under the fair trade labelling system that serve to protect the interest of marginalised farmers. Hundreds of cashew growers from the northern districts and representatives of members of the Liberation-INPC from different countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have assembled here in their search for steps to save the farming community from fluctuations in market prices influenced by multinational monopolies.

Inaugurating the event on Sunday evening, Liberation Foods chairman Robin Murray said that the initiative was aimed at bringing economic independence among the small-holder farmers and creating an alternative egalitarian order by ending the control of monopoly companies that were deciding market prices of farm produce. Observing that the meet provided a new sense of direction among the member growers, Mr. Murray said that the small farmers should develop a joint platform to facilitate exchange of their produce among member groups. This would ensure fair prices through direct trade, keeping at bay the global monopoly companies.

The meet is being co-hosted by the Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK), a 3,000-strong organisation representing cashew growers, mainly from the Kannur and Kasaragod districts. The FTAK is a stakeholder in the Liberation Foods.

INPC chairperson Tomy Mathew said that the FTAK had been in the forefront of the initiative to help small-holder farmers save themselves from exploitation by multinational companies. He said that the FTAK had procured select cash crops, including cashew nuts from the member growers by paying prices higher than market prices. Liberation Foods was buying the cashew nuts procured by the FTAK, he said.

There would be various programmes, including exhibition of agricultural products, seminars and cultural functions, at the meet.