Navdanya’s Philosophy of Fair Trade

Navdanya believes in fair trade and just market. For us, nature, farmers and consumers are co-creators and co- producers. This partnership is necessary for care for the earth, justice for farmers and health of consumers.

Through Biodiversity Conservation, Navdanya is reclaiming and reinventing the market, changing it from its current exploitative and unfair structures to co-operative, co-productive and fair trade.

Therefore for us trade should be Fair to the earth; Fair to the local farmers i.e. producers and also Fair to the consumers.

Fair to the soil and her millions of microorganisms
The trade should be based on justice to the soil and millions of its macro as well as micro-organisms. All the modern methods of “developments” in industrial agriculture are for increasing commodity production at the expense of the soil. On the other hand, our “developments” in sustainable agriculture starts from making soil better and live. If you take our lovely compost on your hand, you can see hundreds of worms and if you use microscope, you can see millions of micro-organisms moving around. It is these who are making all the soil on the earth. Feeding markets while starving the soil is a recipe for hunger and the desertification. If we feed the soil, we will also feed people, and even have quality production for the market.

Fair to the farming communities
The tragedy of industrialized, globalized agriculture is that while commodity markets grow, people starve. The sufferers are small and marginal farmers. They are deprived of food either because their soils have been desertified or chemical agriculture and costly seeds have got them into the heavy debt or they are growing cash crops like cotton and coffee, which bring insufficient returns because globalized trade has pushed down farm prices, or they have been pushed off from the land in the name of development projects. It is criminal that our annadatas (Farmers those who produce the food), our food provider, themselves remain hungry. That is why we ensure that every producer family first grows foods for the household and only trades the surplus. We are promoting biodiversity based organic farming for sustainable livelihoods of the small and marginal farmers also through saving the diverse traditional seeds and encouraging seed exchange amongst the farmers.

Fair to local communities
Everyone has right to eat so everyone must eat. If food is not grown locally, local communities will have to import their food from somewhere. In that case there will be more chances of food contamination and adulteration. If local communities do not eat local produce, biodiversity will disappear from our farms and food and cultural diversity will disappear from our diets, making both the land and its people poor. It is therefore very important to grow the local crops and keep the local food culture alive. Dependency on the outside sources including market could be reduced through biodiversity based organic farming. Navdanya in its project areas in last more than 2 decades have significantly increased the farmer’s income many a fold through its initiative.

Unique products for long-distance trade and exports

Every part of the earth is productive. Every culture on the earth has evolved its diet according to the particular ecosystem it inhabits. As much as possible, food staples must be grown locally, both to produce what the ecosystem is best suited for, and to produce what local cultures have adapted them to.

Trade in food must be restricted to what cannot be grown locally; it must be restricted to foods with both a high value and a small ecological footprint in terms of land and water use.
Different vegetables and fruits grow in different climates. It is better to grow food locally as much as possible. Growing the food in distant places and then shipping them to far will also help in uprooting local peasant, creating hunger and poverty, and will also destroys local agro-biodiversity. Since vegetables and fruits are perishable, transporting them to the long distances is highly energy-intensive, which will also contribute to the climate change.


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