The Chetna Organic Cotton Project was launched in 2004 to improve the livelihoods of small, marginalized Indian farmers through the integration of organic and Fair Trade principles. Farmers produce 100 percent organic and Fair Trade Certified™ cotton without child labor, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, or GMOs. Farmers have a direct role in decision-making throughout the production and selling processes. They are represented in two cooperatives: the Chetna Organic Farmers’ Association and the Chetna Organic Agriculture Producer Company which ensure project goals are met and benefits reach workers directly. Garments manufactured from Chetna cotton are completely traceable to the farmers’ fields, where they are extensively trained in quality control and certification standards. In six years, the project expanded from 240 farmers to more than 6,000 farmers mainly from tribal belts in India. Almost all cotton produced is purchased by an organic and Fair Trade Certified factory called Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills Pvt. Ltd. This relationship provides many additional benefits including the creation of contracts from the beginning of the season to secure bank loans for farmers, access to pre-financing of up to 30 percent of cotton harvest, and participation in community development projects such as setting up schools in remote villages. In 2008, 6,000 farmers earned a total of $43,000 in Fair Trade premiums.
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