Organic label doesn’t tell the full story

An organic coffee farmer points out the array of agricultural biodiversity in his mountainside coffee garden. Photo: Andrew Flachs

Purdue University – The label on organic, fair-trade coffee and clothing doesn’t always tell the full story.

In some cases, companies are working behind the scenes to provide more than just higher earnings by helping marginalized farmers secure land and protect it from logging, mining and large-scale agriculture operations. This is true with organic coffee and cotton production in three villages in India, home to more organic producers than any other country, said Andrew Flachs, an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University.

“Organic farming helps to make a new kind of rural wealth available to Adavasi, or scheduled tribe farmers in these villages,” Flachs said. “These are not people who could own land before, and now they’re part of this first generation since independence and new laws to really have these rights to land, this resource that can keep producing wealth and status. It’s a big deal to pass that forward year after year, and organic farming is one way to really protect and preserve that.”

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