Transformation of the Global Food System actually happens through the transformation of the lives of specific, individual farmers and their families, rooted in the soil of a specific place on our planet. Global Family Farms works to bring about such transformation by working with individual farmers, farmer cooperatives, and community groups. We link transformation of farming and food to improving the quality of people’s lives. We do this by generating economic opportunity through organic, regenerative agriculture.
The Global Food System
In rural areas of Nepal and most areas of the world, where agriculture has traditionally served to provide economic stability, farmers face continually increasing challenges in making a living from farming. Exploitative middlemen capitalize on the geographic isolation and lack of transportation faced by many farmers in rural areas, pushing buying prices for herbs, spices and many other crops so low that most farmers can no longer survive on farming revenue. In addition, these areas do not have the economy or industry needed to provide alternative career options. This forces many young men to leave their villages and migrate internationally in search of work. These stories almost always end up in suffering for these humble and innocent young men.
Global Family Farms trains farmers in organic agriculture, and strengthen their ability to produce safer, more nutritious products that fetch a premium in the marketplace. We provide guidance in forming grower groups and financial support to reduce the costs of organic certification.
The grower groups also gain access to the Global Family Farms marketing channel. This means they avoid exploitative middlemen and receive a guarantee that if they produce a premium organic product, we will purchase it at a specified fair trade price. We are building long-term employment relationships with farmers and their family members, so families can stay together established on a stable financial foundation.
One of our partner organizations is Women for Human Rights (WHR), which provides support for widows and abandoned mothers who face deeply embedded discrimination and marginalization in Nepal. A pilot farming project during 2015 and 2016 was successful in producing a crop of yacon, which improved livelihoods for one small group of women. This will be the basis for expansion in 2017. The income from the pilot yacon production project is already contributing support to WHR’s campaigns for literacy and technical training, and to their advocacy work for human rights legislation. When we learned that PTSD and other stress-related disorders are endemic among the WHR members, we provided access to meditation training, which is enabling women to cope much more effectively with the stress and trauma they face in their life circumstances. You can read more about Women for Human Rights here.
Another partner we work with is The Kanchenjunga Tea Cooperative (KTE) which was established in 1984 as the first organic tea cooperative in Nepal. KTE’s mission is to improve the standard of living for farmers in the remote villages of Eastern Nepal without exploiting or disturbing nature. Global Family Farms shares these sustainable goals, and we are delighted to be partnering with them to amplify their impact for farmers living in the Panchthar district of Eastern Nepal.
As part of its program, KTE provides support that enables the daughters of all workers to attend school. Equal access to education is a huge step forward in improving the future livelihood of these young girls. In fact, 20% of the workforce at KTE are Dalits or “tribals”, who historically have been landless and continue to face huge structural discrimination. KTE employs them, provides fair wages, and provides them with land and a place to call home.
In the village of Bhumahi in Southern Nepal, we have established a modest 15-hectare model organic farm, where we conduct training in organic agriculture for locals. At this farm, we produce a diversity of medicinal herbs, including shatavari, serpentina, ashwagandha, kali musali, and pipla. This farm provides steady employment to needy residents. During planting and harvest seasons we employ over 30 people. Workers include many women from underprivileged groups like the local tribal communities, as well as young men who, without our employment, would be seeking dangerous, menial jobs in the Middle East.
We also provided funding for organic certification of the community forest in a nearby village. This project enables community members to sustainably harvest wild fruit, especially amalaki, a prized Ayurvedic herb, and other forest products, for which we guarantee to pay a premium. We estimate that this project will generate 30 jobs during the spring and autumn quarters, greatly improving quality of life for the involved women and men, while strengthening the local economy.
In Eastern Nepal, we have certified four additional community forests, creating seasonal jobs in each location for 20 to 30 local residents. This is a new model where the funding we provide adds value to the fruit and herbs the villagers harvest, and where our guarantee of a fair trade market gives villagers confidence to engage dynamically in sustainable fruit and herb collection.
These groups represent our launch program in Nepal. As we continue to grow, we will expand operations in Nepal, India, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Turkey, and beyond. We are gathering a global family of farmers to preserve and strengthen the dignity and security that food growers deserve. Global Family Farms provides consumers a channel through which they can contribute to the global effort to restore sustainability, transparency, and equality in the global food system and improve the quality of life in the far corners of our world.
The world is one family!