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Shop for Change – Bringing difference in lives of cotton farmers
Dec '09
Consumers in India are all set to wear organic cotton or in other terms “Fair Trade” clothing just like their counterparts in western countries, which will also go a long way in helping farmers receive remunerative and better incomes, thanks to a organisation; "Shop for Change”, which is the Indian arm of UK based Traidcraft.

In India, Shop for Change is organising cotton farmers in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh and helping and guiding them to cultivate and harvest organic cotton, which is free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals and also provides certification for their produces, which could help them earn a premium.

Along with working with around 2,500 cotton farmers who belong to three organisations and providing funds specifically to help farmers improve their productivity and practice eco-friendly production, Shop for Change, is also promoting certified clothing and fabrics made from this cotton with big retailers and designers.

Fibre2fashion spoke exclusively with Mr Seth Pitchers, CEO of Shop for Change, who when asked as to how his organisation is helping Indian cotton farmers in earning a premium, said, “Traidcraft is a long time supporter of fair trade in the UK and in several countries around the world. To help Indian farmers and artisans, Traidcraft helped launched Shop for Change Fair Trade. Though Shop for Change is now an independent organisation, Traidcraft continues to support Shop for Change's efforts to improve cotton farmers' incomes, invest in their farms and communities, and care for the environment.”

Speaking about the difficulties faced by the Indian farmers to earn a decent living, he said, “According to the World Bank, 60% of India's 1.1 billion people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. But cotton farmers – like many other Indian farmers – struggle to earn a decent living because of uncertain and unstable markets, poor productivity and marketing capacity, and the inability to market and add value to their cotton. Pair these challenges with increasing production and household costs and it's no wonder that many of India's farmers are unable to earn a decent living for their families or invest in environmentally responsible growing practices.”

Explaining how, the 'fair trade mark' could make a difference in the sale of a product, he continued by saying, “The Shop for Change label is a mark of trust that certifies adherence to strict fair trade standards by farmers and buyers and by choosing a product made from Shop for Change Fair Trade certified cotton, consumers can do their bit to empower farming families to improve their lives and care for the environment. Brands that sign on to sell products with the Shop for Change Fair Trade label differentiate their products in the market by adding value for consumers who wantto buy products that represent their support for social and environmental responsibility.”

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