What Seed Savers Club is all about?: The question
My co-founder talked to a farmer today and the conversation broke his heart. A farmer from Haryana, who probably inspired hundreds of others is finally quitting organic farming because his produce is at 60% of chemically produced guavas while he struggles with selling his produce.
A lot of other conversations he had, has him believing that no one is really doing 100% organic farming. That in the spur of a moment, when a pest attack happens or some disease affects the crop, a farmer uses chemicals nevertheless. And then there is the challenge of marketing the produce of these farmers when they are distributed so unevenly that it is tough to aggregate even two.
So it creates a couple of questions. First, can we really make farmers to switch to organic farming and then can we really sell their produce to fetch them better prices.
So back to original question,
What exactly is Seed Savers Club?
Seed Savers Club is not about organic or sustainable agriculture. This a tool or a way to a larger goal and that is “An empowered farmer”. Seed Savers Club is a community that empowers farmers. We do so by bringing them together, allowing them to share each others’ learning, solve each others’ problems and hence grow together.
The reason we stress on organic today is because that’s what empowered farmers talk about. About taking control of their produce from input companies, from dependence on pesticides, from their local input dealer selling them useless products. It is a way towards tackling deteriorating soil fertility, reducing water tables, increasing salinity of water and other ecological issues.
Sounds good, eh? Then why is it a challenge?
The big unsolved problem
While we can agree on that our community can empower farmers to take control of their production, it is not necessary that our farmers go 100% organic or that it reduces their cost.
The biggest problem, at the end of the day, is of not getting a fair market price. That’s why farmers care so much about having an MSP. If we had a clear market differentiation i.e. our farmers were 100% organic and if we could really aggregate their produce then we could provide them better prices. We could sell their produce to consumers who care.
But now that the produce is distributed across a huge geography and produce is not really 100% organic and then someone says the cost of production is actually going up then what have we exactly solved?
An empowered farmer walking towards his grave?
Part 1 ends here. Read the answer to this question in part 2.