A Navi Mumbai school has partnered with farmer collectives in Marathwada to educate residents on fair trade practices
The crops on display
To many urban children, food comes from the supermarket. Beyond textbook knowledge, they don’t know what really goes into the making of food. What are we without our farmers was a question that led the students of Goldcrest High, Vashi, to get acquainted with Fairtrade — an organisation that connects farmers with consumers so they can earn a fair price for their produce, without middlemen. Starting this weekend, the school is organising an Organic Farmers’ Market — in association with 21 Organic and is supported by SHARAN. Thereafter, every Friday on the school campus, locals will be able to buy fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables and other products directly from the farmers.
A farmer harvesting ashwagandha
Kavita Malhotra, principal, Goldcrest High, Vashi says, “The idea is to advocate the thought that we need to take action now to protect our environment, before it’s too late. Students from classes nine to 12 will interact with the farmers directly on the day of the launch this Saturday. A few stalls will be manned by the students who will demonstrate how to grow microgreens. There will be stalls to spread awareness of fair trade practices and gallery walks on the themes, salutation to farmers and traditional and contemporary farming.”
Based in Latur in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, 2,700 acres of land is cultivated under 21 Agri Private Limited, the parent company of 21 Organics. Its founder, Aditi Deshmukh, says they spend a lot of time with the farmers, working closely in the drought-prone region, sharing best practices and educating them to turn waste produce into manure for use on the field. “Chemical farming strips the soil of essential nutrients, turning it infertile, rock hard and incapable of retaining water. Drought makes things worse. That’s why we emphasise on knowledge sharing, especially in this region, to help make farming sustainable again.”
Farmers harvesting the land
Dhananjay Raut, farmer’s head and agricultural advisor of 21 Agri Private Limited, shares, “Back in the day, we were dependent on sugarcane and the frequent droughts [2016 and 2018] made things worse. However, since we have been introduced to organic farming, we’ve been growing supplementary crops like soybean, toor dal, bitter gourd, among others. Since COVID-19, we have also started cultivating ashwagandha and other medicinal crops. They require less water and are extremely low maintenance. Thanks to fair pricing, we can now plan how much we want to invest in a crop cycle. For instance, if we know that we will get R25,000 per quintal, we can then do the math on how much needs to be invested if we intend on selling three quintals. This approach has changed our lives.” Of the farmers’ market, Raut is positive that working with urban children would help both parties broaden their horizons.
On: December 3; 10.30 am to 12.30 pm
At: Goldcrest High, Plot No 59, Sector 29, Vashi