Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade that is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Over the years, Fairtrade has achieved significant progress in India by developing partnerships with various producer organizations to generate a more substantial social impact in the lives of farmers and workers. Hence, the Fairtrade in India: Sustainability, Markets and Impact Conference and Recognition Event 2023 was jointly organized by Fairtrade NAPP and Fairtrade India. This conference celebrated and recognized the remarkable efforts of diverse Fairtrade producer organizations while uniting various practitioners, partners and supporters from diverse producer organizations, businesses, schools, and universities across India.
During the following two days, this event has seen active participation from over 150 delegates and featured more than 50 speakers across 12 sessions. This included sustainability thought leaders, innovators, practitioners, and delegates from the global Fairtrade system to discuss the multifaceted efforts of the Fairtrade System in India and shape the future direction of the Fairtrade movement in the country. Containing Fairtrade coconut oil and a wick from Fairtrade cotton, the inaugural ceremonial lamp was lit by esteemed dignitaries.
Following this, the opening plenary session namely, “Future is Fair: Sustainability, Markets and Impact” commenced with a significant turnout. To provide a broader perspective on Fairtrade’s efforts in light of global and domestic developments, the panel featured esteemed dignitaries, namely, Mr Laurent Le Danois, the Team Leader of the Cooperation Section at the European Union Delegation to India; Mr Sanjeet Singh Khurana, the Executive Director of Fairtrade NAPP; Mr. Michael Gidney, the Chief Executive Officer of the Fairtrade Foundation in the United Kingdom; Mr. Detlev Grimmelt, an Executive Board Member at Fairtrade Germany (Deutschland); and Mr. Abhishek Jani, the Chief Executive Officer of the Fairtrade India Project who presented their viewpoint. This was an interesting session that delved into the growing challenges with the worsening effects of climate change, uncertainty in the global economy and rising income inequality. It also discussed the opportunities with growing multi-lateral collaboration on the implementation of SDGs, the recently completed G-20 summit and innovation in areas of finance and technology.
The second session, titled “Fairtrade Impact on the Field: Exemplary Practices in Fairtrade Premium Utilization and Other Fairtrade Initiatives,” featured presentations from representatives of Fairtrade producer organizations hailing from various regions of India. The panellists included Mr. Tomy Mathew, Promoter of Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, Mr. Nandakumar Rajagopalan, Chief Executive Officer of Chetna Organic Agricultural Producer Company Limited; Mr. Surendra Kumar, Head of Agro Operation of Organic India; Mrs Ranjana Maurya, member of Organic India; Mr. Muniraju K. Shivanna, Chair of Fairtrade Premium Committee of Primary Agriculture Credit Co-Operative Sangha Niyamit Itagi; Mrs. Nina Patil, Sustainable Agriculture Strategist of Vinifex Agro Producer Company Limited and Ms Meena Tamang, health worker of Makaibari Tea Estate.
It was an inspiring session that highlighted the remarkable and impactful efforts undertaken by Fairtrade Producer Organizations on the ground. These leaders are pioneers in the Fairtrade producer movement in India as they are actively driving positive changes in producer livelihoods, combatting environmental and curbing social exploitation.
In today’s world, digitalization has revolutionized the agriculture sector by facilitating farmer’s efficiency, productivity, and environmental sustainability. Through data-driven insights and smart technologies, farmers can make informed decisions to optimize their operations and strive towards environmental sustainability. This panel session “Innovation and Technology for Impact” featured esteemed dignitaries, namely, Mr. Sumit Sheoran, Co-founder of Fyllo; Mr. Mohit Pande, Chief Business Officer of Cropin India and Mr. Sandeep Kondaji, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Krishi Tantra who shared insights of their digital platforms with our producers.
They shed light on the diverse range of activities of their digital platforms (such as information on precipitation, and irrigation alerts among others) that can be undertaken by the producers on various aspects of their operation and boost agricultural efficiency. Since Fairtrade has incorporated its products, the subsequent question-and-answer sessions have enabled Fairtrade producers to grasp diverse aspects of the digital platforms employed in the field. It was one of the most profound sessions that helped our producers integrate the new advancements in agricultural practices and attain a sustainable future.
Simultaneously, the conference featured various interesting sessions on various aspects of Fairtrade commitment related to communication, promoting business conduct among MSMEs and integrating brands with sustainability. The first-day panel session ended with brimming enthusiasm and the zeal to come for the next day.
The evening was a joyous occasion during which the remarkable achievements of Fairtrade producer organizations were celebrated. In total, 11 Fairtrade producer organizations were recognized for their untiring efforts in 13 categories. The recognized Fairtrade producer organizations in each category are as follows –
- Pratibha Vasudha Jaivik Krishi Kalyan Samiti was recognized for their outstanding work around Fairtrade Climate Action and Sustainable Environment.
- Organic India Farmer Producer Company Limited was recognized for their outstanding work around Fairtrade Climate Action and Sustainable Environment.
- Sharsid Overseas Private Limited was recognized for their outstanding work around Fairtrade Sustainable Communities: Gender and Youth Empowerment.
- Arjunsond Organic Farmers Co-operative Society Ltd. was recognized for their outstanding work around Fairtrade Sustainable Communities: Gender and Youth Empowerment.
- Organic India Farmer Producer Company Limited was recognized as the Fairtrade Small Producer of the Year.
- Kerala Agro Foundation for Fair Trade Enhancement (KAFFE) was recognized as the Fairtrade Small Producer of the Year.
- Rapar and Dhrangadhra Farmers Producer Company was recognized as the Fairtrade Small Producer of the Year.
- Pratibha Vasudha Jaivik Kalyan Samiti was recognized as the Fairtrade Contract Producer of the Year.
- Pratima Agro and Paper Pvt. Ltd. was recognized as the Fairtrade Contract Producer of the Year.
- Nature Pearls Private Limited was recognized as the Fairtrade Contract Producer of the Year.
- Parry Agro Industries Ltd. was recognized as the Fairtrade Hired Labour Plantation of the Year.
- United Nilgiri Tea Estates Co. Ltd. was recognized as the Fairtrade Hired Labour Plantation of the Year
- Chamong Tee Exports Private Limited was recognized as the Fairtrade Hired Labour Plantation of the Year.
It has been a great honour to be associated with such organizations that help extend the Fairtrade commitment towards a more equitable world. Following an engaging first day of the Fairtrade in India Conference, the conference engaged in another stimulating day of discussions and dialogue. In a world where eco-conscious choices are reshaping every sector, the first session titled “Sustainability in Cotton Textiles Value Chain” explored the textile industry’s sustainable future which is considered by some as one of the most polluting industries. It featured dignitaries including fairtrade producers namely, Mr. Pravakar Meher, Managing Director of Pratima Agro and Paper Pvt. Ltd. and Mrs. Anjali Mittal, Senior Manager of Vasudha Swaraj Jaivik Kalyan Samiti who emphasized on eco-friendly farming methods and responsible manufacturing processes to reduce environmental impact.
In the face of the current climate crisis, taking necessary steps towards climate action has become paramount. The panel session titled “Fairtrade and Climate Action” immersed into this very topic that discussed sustainable agricultural practices diminishing carbon footprints and empowering farmers to confront the challenges posed by climate change head-on. This panel featured Mr. Krishnendu Chatterjee, Vice President of Nature Bio-Foods Pvt. Ltd.; Roshan Zalte, Director/Chairman of ND Small Farmers Producer Co. Ltd. and Mr. Joby Jacob Vayalil, the secretary of Sahayadri Organic Small Farmers Consortium. One highlight was Mr. Ranjith Kumar from Fairtrade NAPP, who passionately shared about Fairtrade NAPP’s support to producers at the grassroots level in mitigating climate change.
The panel discussed Climate-friendly initiatives taken by Fairtrade producer organizations and how Fairtrade is supporting them through premium support. These initiatives are instrumental in fostering responsible and ethical practices among producers, ensuring that our journey towards a greener, more sustainable future is grounded in tangible, positive actions.
Business process, market and Product innovation are critical for not just growth but also dealing with every evolving economic environment. Hence, this session delved into “Sustainability and Innovation: Value Addition in Marketing”. Esteemed dignitaries, namely, Mr Shilajit Roy Choudhury, Vice President of the United Nilgiri Estate Company; Mr. Tapan Ray, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PraTithi Organic Foods Pvt. Ltd. and Mr. Jacob Jose, Secretary Sahyadri Organic Small Farmer Consortium delivered impactful insights of incorporating new innovative techniques and sustainable solutions to tackle various challenges faced such as waste management among others. Hence, this session provided insights into impactful value addition created by implementing sustainable solutions to their business operations.
One of the main highlights of this conference is that it featured two important panel sessions that gave important voices to the youth and representatives involved in moulding the future of this country. In the “Youth and Fairtrade” panel session, NAPP youth representatives Aina Dhyani, a youth leader from Nature Bio Foods Pvt. Ltd. and Albin Shaji, Treasurer of Sahyadri Organic Small Farmers Consortium shared the obstacles they’ve faced, discussed the ways Fairtrade has assisted them, their experiences with Fairtrade and their efforts to shape a more equitable future for all.
The final panel session centred on establishing sustainable supply chains for businesses. This panel discussion highlighted that for Fairtrade to gain mainstream acceptance, it’s crucial for more businesses to recognize the value of being part of this ecosystem and to identify businesses for sustainable supply chains. The day concluded with an appreciative session that expressed gratitude to everyone present at the event.
This conference showcased the remarkable progress and commitment of Fairtrade in India. This conference celebrated the remarkable achievements of Fairtrade producer organizations and highlighted the vital role of sustainable solutions for a more equitable future. It showcased exemplary Fairtrade practices and discussions on various aspects that are vital for business operations. The event brought together practitioners, partners, and supporters to discuss the challenges and opportunities in Fairtrade, with a focus on sustainability, innovation, and climate action. The main highlight was the recognition of the outstanding efforts of various Fairtrade producer organizations that created exemplary efforts towards a fairer world. Together, people can amplify Fairtrade’s impact, advocate for sustainable supply chains, and foster a more interconnected and equitable world for farmers and workers, strengthening collective efforts for positive change.
“I would like to thank Fairtrade India and the Fairtrade NAPP team for conducting such a wonderful gathering of the Fairtrade champions of India. It was a great learning and networking platform which is enriched with the presence of vibrant and energetic students from the Fairtrade schools.” – Jacob Jose, Board Member and Co-ordinator, Sahyadri Organic Small Farmers Consortium.
“Thank you to the Fairtrade team for organising such an amazing event and for giving us an opportunity to learn all the new ways in which Fairtrade is progressing and increasing its reach among the masses. It was a great platform to connect with like-minded people and learn and get inspired from their journeys. Fairtrade children and their trust in Fairtrade makes us believe that we are moving in the right direction.” – Anjali Mittal, Senior Manager, Pratibha Vasudha Jaivik Krishi Kalyan Samiti.
It was a great event by the Fairtrade NAPP and Fairtrade India team. It was a convincing first-class event that showcased all our merged efforts towards the sustainable fairtrade movement and refuelling growth of the fairtrade industry to make all involved in the value chain a winner including consumers. I believe everyone is doing their best in their capacities and helping us achieve higher success. We, at PraTithi Organic Foods Pvt Ltd, India will dovetail our fair, sustainable, regenerative mission in this ongoing movement to trigger a bigger and better success. Let’s all stay actively connected as one united family to realise our common goals as per plan and timely execution.” – Tapan Ray, PraTithi Organic Foods Pct. Ltd.
“I appreciate the entire team’s efforts on this successful event. Our expectations have doubled now, and we are sure the team is confident to meet our expectations.” – Muniraju K. Shivanna, Chair of Fairtrade Premium Committee, Primary Agriculture Credit Co-operative Sangha Niyamit.