Linking Andhra with Europe via organic T-shirts

Linking Andhra with Europe via organic T-shirts

Initiative to encourage organic farming in the State

Social entrepreneurs Aneel Kumar Ambavaram and Sarat Gidda from Andhra Pradesh have successfully sold 40,000 T-shirts made of organic cotton grown in fully organic village Enabavi of Warangal by 50 farmers in the Netherlands in 2014 and 2015. They have now embarked on a mission to encourage at least 3,000 cotton farmers into organic farming in the State.

To start with the duo roped in 50 farmers, who had never seen a non-Bt cotton seed, from Kothavalasa, Chinatalapadu and two other villages in Vizianagaram district recently. A firm in the U.S. has already committed itself to purchase the cotton lint produced by these farmers. Also, firms in European countries have evinced interest.

Through their organization, the Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development (GVKSRD) of which Aneel, a native of Kadapa is president and Sarat, a native of Kakinada, vice-president, the duo along with the support of experts in organic farming, ran campaigns in villages looking for farmers willing to join them.

The GVKSRD takes order from a brand that needs organic lint or T-shirts, gets cotton produce from its associated farmers, processes it through the ginning and spinning mill in Tiruppur and distributes the end product. In the Netherlands ‘T for Change’, a local company, sold the T-shirts twice on the eve of a national day.

Mr. Sarat said T. Vijay Kumar, Adviser (Agriculture and Cooperation Department) to Government, AP, assured them of encouraging a huge number of farmers into organic farming with the GVKSRD if they showed encouraging results in the first project in Vizianagaram.

Mr. Sarat says the organic farming not only helps farmers get rid of the impact of pesticides and other chemicals but also reduces the amount of water needed. “A conventional cotton t-shirt needs about 3,000 litres where as the organic t-shirt needs only 300 litres,” he said.

The immediate benefit for the farmers would be a reduction in expenditure. Usually, they spend Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 per acre, but now they have only invested around Rs. 5,000 per acre.

Due to the non-adaptability of the organic seed in the soil used to chemicals, the yield will be 40 per cent less in the first year. This will gradually decrease and become normal after three years. As the investment is also low, the farmer would not expect high returns, Mr. Sarat explains.

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