After delivering a bumper order for 20,000 organic T-shirts from Dutch Queen for 100,000 euros, Sarat Babu Gidda, a social entrepreneur, and his associates now have set their eyes on promoting cotton cultivation by adopting zero-based natural farming practices among tribal farmers of North Andhra region in a big way.
The Dutch project was executed by Grameena Vikas Kendram, a society for rural development, over a period of two years from the Kadapa-based startup. Later, it moved to Ramabhadrapuram in Vizianagaram district to train tribal farmers, especially women, on shifting to organic farming with a buy-back promise.
Mr. Sarat Babu points out that making an organic T-shirt needs 300 litres of water when compared to the 3,000 litres for a farmer using chemicals. The project is being jointly implemented by Marci Zaroff, founder of Metawear from the U.S., Grameena Vikas Kendram president Aneel Kumar Ambavaram and vice-president Sarat Babu.
Through Metaware, which owns a knitting mill, they want to reduce the greenhouse effect and the carbon footprint. “Use of chemicals adversely affect soil fertility, water-holding capacity and growth of essential microbes. After three years of migrating to organic farming practices using bio-fertilisers and compost, the cost of cultivation gets slashed by 70%, ensuring higher yield,” says Mr. Sarat Babu, a B.Tech graduate.
As part of the sensitisation programme, a series of meetings have been organised, after which 233 small and marginal farmers have joined the group for cultivating cotton by using organic farming practices in 233 acres in Gummalakshmipuram and Pachipenta of Vizinagaram and neighbouring Bhamini of Srikakulam district.
“We want to procure raw cotton, process it by giving it to a private firm at Ramabhadrapuram for ginning and later send it to spinning mill for shipment to Metaware,” Mr. Sarat Babu says. As part of the strategy, now they are not producing any organic garment. “Maybe when opportunity comes, we want to have our own brand and export T-shifts, bed sheets, sanitary napkins and other products with cotton produced through zero-based natural farming,” he says.