Mineral Spring Sanukta Vikas Sanstha
FLO ID: 2511
Individual members 432
Year Fairtrade Certified: 2004
Organisation Type: Smallholder
Mineral Spring Sanjukta Vikas Sanstha is a collective of small producers in a mountain region near Darjeeling, West Bengal, India. The organisation was established in 1997 and registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act since 2001. MSSVS has 432 members covering 11 villages within the two Gram Panchayats (Dapaipani & Harsing GPs).
The farmers of MSSVS grow tea, ginger, turmeric, large cardamom and oranges which are certified organic since 2001 and seasonal vegetables.
The 11 villages of Mineral Spring are spread from 850 meters to 2000 meters above the sea level. The climate of the region is sub-tropical and the temperature ranges from 5 °C to 15 °C in the Winters (November to February) and 15 °C to 30 °C in the Summers (March to October).
The MSSVS decided to join Fairtrade because they see Fairtrade as a modern support system which has a global reach. The farmers lives have improved after they joined Fairtrade and the prices for crops increased. The economic standard for the farmers has improved as well, and it has helped the organization in building social ties and responsibilities among the different villages. Within the 11 villages of Mineral Spring, all farmers are members of the organisation. The standard of living depends upon the land holding size of the family.The MSSVS organises trainings for members on organic farming practices, Fairtrade standards and developmental planning, and internal control system for organic production and environmental issues.
Board members at a training workshop
“Fairtrade has opened up our mindset. Just being a producer and selling our harvests to traders is not enough. Now we are learning to have bargain rights, and clearly thinking of creating our own business opportunities”
Navin Tamang, farmer
The cooperative is planning to invest the Fairtrade Premium in setting up small-scale processing units for tea, ginger, and cardamom; and also in acquiring land.
There are no roads for big cars within Mineral Spring. However, there is a road that connects Mineral Spring and Darjeeling. There are a few shared taxis (light vehicles) in the villages.
The MSSVS practices a multi-cropping farming system based on traditional methods and is chemical-free.
Waste management is becoming a major concern because of littering and non-degradable wastes from food packages, sachets and run-off of plastic wastes in streams and rivers from other areas. Awareness programs have been conducted about waste management for the farmers.