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Iramma Ramappa Bangari - Family Farmed Cotton

Organic Cotton Growing in India

Mrs Iramma Ramappa Bangari, 40, from Neelagunda Village, married at a young age to her husband Hussed, now 55, who has suffered from Polio since he was 10 years old. Despite being married into one of the most important families into the village, it must have been hard for a young girl to cope with such responsibilities. The couple have six children; four daughters and two sons. The two boys, aged 18 and 22, dropped out of school and are currently working in the fields. Three of the girls are married; the youngest, who is 16 years old, is in 10th grade at school.

All the land is from Hussed's family, where they also live in the ancestral home. Iramma’s father-in-law farmed until he died ten years ago at the age of 92. Unusually, when he died, he gave his land equally to his disabled son, and four daughters. By local standards he was a substantial farmer indeed. Mrs Bangari and her family farm 51.5 acres organically, 25.2acres, of which, is cotton. Other crops are jowar - local, open headed corn, sunflower, wheat, chick peas and coriander which is intercropped with cotton to use all the space.

Labour is a problem as organic farming is labour intensive, largely due to the added weeding. Mrs Bandari calculates that it takes ninety days to keep three acres properly weeded therefore in peak seasons she employs up to forty people. The government’s minimum wage is 82 rupees (£1) per day for farm labour, casual workers in the region are paid 50-100 rupees (£0.67-£1.34) - plus ½-1 kg/day of whatever is harvested. This is far more important than the cash component, both for reasons of food security and for value. Apart from the land the family own four cattle to provide valuable manure to the land and the compost heaps. Mrs Bangari consciously turned to organic farming in 2000 in recognition that all her ancestors farmed this way.

Check out our Fairtrade, organic cotton ETHLETIC trainers to help the Bangari family, and others like them, to sustain a good income.

Published 11/10/11

Photo(s) ® M.Kunz Fair Deal Trading
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