I am now encouraged to tend to the crop well
Indian coffee farmer Agustine Vadyath feels more secure about his future now he is a member of Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, which provides the coffee used in Traidcraft’s medium-roast instant coffee.
"I used to sell in the local markets and also to people that come to this house and buy," he said. "But in the market you get only the price of that day, there is not a fixed price."
"I had all but ignored my coffee plants since the markets were so unsteady and I could not meet costs. This is the third year running that I have managed to sell my coffee through Fair Trade Alliance Kerala for an assured price. I am now encouraged to tend to the crop well. I can get the money in my hand. It is a better price."
Agustine has 3,000 coffee plants which he farms organically. The homestead style of farming, which is preferred by many small-scale farmers in Kerala, means that as well as growing cash crops like coffee, the land also provides food for Agustine, his wife, Valsa, and their two daughters. Twinkle (19) is studying social work at university and sixteen-year-old Lida attends higher secondary school.
Photo makes trust factor go up
Agustine features on the coffee tubs and jars, but when he saw them for the first time, it was the coffee inside which impressed him most.
"I never realized that the coffee could become an instant!" he said.
So what was his reaction at seeing his photograph on the coffee packaging?
"I think it is a good idea to have a photo on the package. If I saw a farmer’s photograph on something I was buying then I think the trust factor goes up."
Fair Trade Alliance Kerala Background
Fair Trade Alliance Kerala provides some 3,200 farmers growing coffee, cashews and spices with access to fair trade markets. Their coffee is used in Traidcraft medium-roast instant coffee (tubs and jars).
Fluctuating prices made farming a precarious way of earning a living for small-scale farmers in Kerala. Many of them cut down their coffee plants when prices tumbled and relied on sales of pepper until that market crashed. Now, thanks to sales of their Fairtrade coffee, they can enjoy a more stable future, and many are replanting coffee on their homestead farms.
This traditional form of farming is very important, as the mixture of crops grown on the small farms provides both cash crops and food for the family.