Fair Trade Alliance Kerala Cashew Farmers (FTAK)

FTAK is a small holder farmers’ organisation based in the hilly districts of the western Ghats of Kerala in southern India.

Set up back in 2005 to address the poverty faced by farmers in Kerala, back then farmers were not even getting enough money to cover the cost of production of their crops!

Now thanks to FTAK small scale farming is sustainable, through working under Fair Trade principles farmers are given a fair price for their products and sustainable farming means that farming protects and nurtures the land as well as the workers.

The organisation has over 4,500 members, with around 10% of them women and the average farm size of 1.47ha. Not only do the farmers grow our crunchy Fairtrade cashew nuts, but they also grow lots of other lovely Fairtrade products including coffee, cocoa, coconuts and spices.

WHAT ARE THE FAIR TRADE BENEFITS?

Fair Trade Alliance Kerala gets the farmers together to make their own decisions on the pricing, operations and sustainable development, as well as how to invest the money from the Fairtrade premium.

The FTAK farmers have invested the Fairtrade Premium in things that benefit the wider community.  So far they have funded the following projects:

  • Solar panelling for an alternative energy source for a school
  • Solar powered electric fencing to protect farms on the edge of forests from the local elephants. The fences provide a mild shock to deter elephants from stampeding their crops!
  • Distribution of agricultural tools – to help with farming
  • Training and workshops on 'Zero budget farming'
  • Community kitchen for school children
  • Community water supply programme
  • Invested in the construction of new office premises

FTAK along with 11 other Fairtrade co-operatives in Malawi, Nicaragua and Bolivia jointly own a 44% share in the Fairtrade nut company Liberation Foods. Ownership of the company means they have an active role in its governance and more power within their supply chain.

WHAT WILL FAIR TRADE HELP THEM DO IN THE FUTURE?

A large part of the Fairtrade Premium is going to continue to be invested in converting farms to organic production so that farmers can benefit the environment and from better prices for their produce.

FTAK have also invested in a ‘Disaster Management Fund’. This is really important, especially for the farmers living on the hillsides, whose homes and crops are at the greatest risk of being destroyed by landslides during the monsoon season.

Another on-going programme FTAK are actively promoting is ‘Women empowerment’, working towards a change in attitude for women to be seen as equal partners in the family farm decisions and growing a wider variety of food grown on small farms to increase their families’ food security.