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Two monsoon scripts: Who’ll get it right?

NEW DELHI: Competing forecasts have injected a new dimension to the hazardous business of monsoon prediction this year, with private weather agency Skymet taking a completely different view of how rains would perform in what are the most crucial four months of the year for India's economy. 

Read Full Story in TOI

Continuing the momentum generated by the Training program and the Seed Festival, Chetna Organic, under the guardianship of FFID (Forum for Integrated Development) announced the launch of its ‘Sustainable Farms, Sustainable Futures’ on April 10, 2015. The project is being supported by the UK based Big Lottery Fund and Traidcraft. On the occasion, a ‘Project Launching Workshop’ was organized in Bhavanipatna with staff from Traidcraft, FFID/Chetna Program Management Staff and Field staff of the project to orient the team about the scope of the program.

This organic cotton/sustainable agriculture intervention program targets to reach out to 4000 small farmers (including 60% women) in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts of Odisha to adopt organic/sustainable agricultural practices over a period of five years. Right from pre-season trainings, to mid -season technical support to post harvest certification and marketing effort, the program promises to provide an end-to-end capacity building support to organic cotton farmers offering them access to international markets while also insulating them from wildly fluctuating prices and volatility of international markets.

The ‘Sustainable Farms, Sustainable Futures’ project replaces the about- to- conclude ‘Organic and Fairtrade Cotton Intervention Program’ (2008-2015) as FFID-Chetna’s flagship project, that supported more than 15,000 cotton farmers derive benefits from organic and fairtrade farming practices over a seven year period.



Seed Festival 2015 On April 9, 2015, the six – day training program on organic concepts culminated in the Seed Mela organised by Chetna Organic to facilitate exchange of desi seeds and Seed conservation practices among communities. Nearly 400 farmers, mostly women(95%) groups from small villages in Bhavanipatna, Lanjigarh, Muniguda and Kantabanji blocks in Odisha and tribal belts in Adilabad district of Telangana enthusiastically participated in the festivals by putting up stalls where they exhibited and exchanged the desi seed varieties that grow in their region. Local NGOs like RCDC and Madhyam who also work on seed conservation exhibited the seeds they conserve. The festival saw the active participation of seed guardians and seed custodians who operate the nine seed banks in Kalahandi and Rayagada in Odisha, under the Chetna Organic Seed Guardians program supported by Textile Exchange and Inditex Government officials, seed conservation activists were also invited to the festival to to reinforce the significance of local seed conservation. While students of the organic training program received their course completion certificates at the festival, some farmers were also awarded a certificate of recognition as model farmers for following best practices in organic farming. The groups also received a certificate of participation in the Seed Mela as recognition of their efforts as seed conservators. All in all, the event facilitated the exchange of atleast 500-600 varieties of seeds. The Chetna Organic Seed Mela as an annual event is made possible with the support of its partners like Felissimo, Textile Exchange, Inditex, GSRD, Solidaridad and ICCO.




A six - day long training program ‘Organic Farming for Beginners’ was conducted in Bhavanipatna, Kalahandi district, Odisha between March 4-9,2015 young people to build them as core facilitators, para- professionals of organic farming in Chetna Organic clusters.

Organised at the at SVA training hall in Bhawanipatna, the training was attended by 20 Students (11boys and 9 girls) and spanned over 6 sessions of conceptual, manual and technical inputs. Practical demonstrations were carried out at the Chetna Organic Eco centre at Martubhoomi Cooperative in Mading, Bhavanipatna. The assignments on data collection of farmers and seed collection were organized in the three villages of Poria, Tentulipada and Bhimdonga of Bhawanipatna cluster. The course curriculum was specially designed keeping in view the various challenges faced by farmers and farmers groups in the field and is aimed at helping them intensify their organic agricultural production.

The fully residential course covered the concepts of Institution Building (Groups/Coops/Producer cos), Organic Certification Processes, Marketing of Organic Produce, Integrated Organic Farming Systems, Soils & Soil Fertility Management, Water Conservation & Management, Seeds, Crop Varieties, Conservation, Plant Protection – The organic approach, Post Harvesting Technology, Livelihoods (On farm, Off farm, Entrepreneurship) All trainees hail from rural backgrounds and aspire to become active practitioners and promoters of organic farming in the near future. The Organic training program is being offered by Chetna Organic under the Peace by Peace Cotton program being supported by Felissimo Corporation, Japan and co- supported by G Star, GSRD, Solidaridad and and ICCO foundations.



On April 8, 2015, Chetna Organic hosted a convergence meeting at the district collectorate meeting hall in Bhavanipatna, Odisha for officials and representatives of various government schemes and departments. The goal of the meeting was to bring together and coordinate government efforts and schemes to deliver maximum benefits to the farmers- specifically the farmers and cooperatives in the Chetna’s operational areas. The meeting was attended by Additional District Magistrate Durbadal Meher, Dy director of Horticulture Lingaraj Acharya and Ganesh Prasad (SMS Agronomy) Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Additional Fisheries officer. R N Mund and Dy Director of AgricultureL k Patt Singh. The meeting was convened by Mr GS Rao of Chetna organic and facilitated by Dr Narayan Upadhyay, SMS cotton. Activities of Chetna organic were presented to the group by Mr Ramprasad, Tech Head (Entomology) Chetna Organic to the gathering. Participating in the discussions, officials from the agriculture department, and SMS Cotton mentioned the various schemes and resources available for organic farmers and how those schemes can be accessed. They promised full cooperation and facilitation in delivering the benefits of the schemes to farmers working with Chetna Organic under their various projects. As an outcome of the meeting, DD Nabard sought proposals on three specific projects on Working Capital Loan, Seed Village Program and WADI program. The meeting facilitated the dissemination of information on farm mechanisation and equipments under various schemes. 1. Primary seed/grain proceesing machine @75% subsidy 2. Vermi compost units 50% subsidy, 3. Drip 75% subsidy for small and marginal farmers. 4. Onion storage unit at 50% subsidy.

Give me five more minutes’ signals Gualu Goud as he’s standing on top of one of his five compost heaps working the top layer with a hoe. I met Gualu earlier this month in a village in the eastern Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa). He’s been a cotton farmer for most of his life. Things were ok until about 10 years ago when yields started to drop even though he used increasing amounts of expensive chemical fertilisers. And looking at his soil he felt really bad, there was no life in it, he says.

In 2007 agricultural advisers from Chetna Organic, an Indian NGO that promotes sustainable farming methods in what’s known as India’s cotton belt came to his village and offered advice and training – like how make good compost and use it to heal the soil. Just six years later half of the 130 farmers in Bhimdanga village are farming organically, cotton and other crop yields are good, and Gualu has become an expert compost maker.

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For husband-and wife team Missy and Scott Tannen, founders of fair trade organic cotton bedding company Boll & Branch, the term "family business" doesn't just apply to their own family.

Missy and Scott Tannen met during their junior year at Vanderbilt University in 1997. It was a blind date, set up by their friends, to attend a Commodores football game. Scott, who never missed the players run through the tunnel and onto the field before the game, had to wait outside the stadium until halftime for a woman he never met before. When Missy finally showed up, Scott's annoyance immediately went away. They got married in April 2001, and now live in Chatham, New Jersey with their three daughters.

Nearly two decades after that first date, Missy and Scott co-founded Boll & Branch, the first fair trade-certified organic bedding company in the U.S. The company made close to $1.75 million in sales in its first year, and counts Bill Clinton and Shakira among its customers.

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Heres a story from the Telugu Newspaper featuring experiences of Tribal women from Chetna Organic who have been following organic farming practices for almost a decade now. 

Read the Story in Telugu


Buoyed by the recent COFA and COAPCL board resolution to have atleast 50% women on all cooperative boards, Sri Chaitanya Cooperative members elected 4 women members to their cooperative board at the Annual General Body Meeting held in Repaka Village in Karimnagar District. Going a step further, they unanimously elected Sharada, a longstanding and proactive organic farmer with Chetna as their cooperative president.

The annual general body meeting was held on Sept 29, 2014, at the cooperative owned warehouse in Repaka village, constructed with funds from Fairtrade premiums and Community Development support from brands like Jackpot and donor agencies ICCO and Solidaridad. As election of office bearers to the cooperative was due with terms of previous office bearers nearing completion, members used the timing to fulfill the agenda set by COFA and COAPCL boards to have more women participation in all activities. In a body of 12 members, they elected six women to the board and four of them as office bearers.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014, Chetna Organic has turned its focus to increase women participation in all its activities and at all levels of the organization. As the next significant initiative, there is an effort to ensure 50% women representation in all farmers self help groups – which function as the base of Chetna’s unique institutional structure. 


On Aug 27, 2014, Pragathi MACS- a Chetna promoted cooperative based in Utnoor organised its Annual General Body Meeting at the newly established Pragathi Eco Centre in Jainoor. It was a moment of pride for the staff of Chetna Organic and the cooperative staff as they could finally organise the annual event on their own land.

With more than 50 Rangolis dotting across the entrance of the eco centre, the mood at the venue was that of celebration and festivitiy. Even as the 15 previous office bearers retired and new members elected, Pragathi MACs achieved the distinction of being the first Chetna cooperative to elect 50 % women as its board members. 

As election formalities continued, men and women from the villages (mostly 100% organic villages) voluntarily performed traditional dance and music, making the entire event a community organised event rather than a cooperative election. This was an event that reflected the pride of tribal farmers practicing a way of life that was in sync environment. Nearly 400 people participated in the event, making it a grand success.


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