Kudumbam NGO is helping marginalized and small scale farmers in Southern India to cultivate organic and organize themselves to get stronger together. Currently Kudumbam and the farmers are working with a certification for organic products called PGS; Participatory Guarantee System. PGS is different from other organic certifications in the sense that the farmers work together in a self-regulatory system, where they form groups and inspect the organic cultivation of each other. Thus, they can guarantee that their agricultural products have been produced without any chemical pesticides or inorganic fertilizers.
Most traditional organic certifications involve a third-part consultant that from time to time inspect the farms, to guarantee that the agriculture is organic. The negative side of this, is that it is often very costly for the farmers to certify their products, since they have to pay for the consultancy. Hence, the organic farmers working with Kudumbam are now in the process of shifting from a third-part certification to the PGS certification. This way they can save money together, and sell their organically certified products. Kudumbam started working with PGS in 2015, and over 100 farmers are already certified.
Next step in the empowerment of the organic farmers is the creation of a Producer Company. The newly PGS certified farmers are in the process of starting their own company for marketing of their products like millets, pulses, traditional rice varieties, vegetables and fruits. At the moment a problem for many small scale farmers is that they get a low income since there are many middle-hands involved in the business. Typically a so-called middle man will buy the product directly from the farmers, and then sell it to a whole seller, that in his turn will sell the product to the retailers, i.e. shops where the consumers can buy the products at a much higher price than the farmer got. Kudumbam is therefore working to link the producers more directly to the consumers, and facilitating training for the PGS-farmers on how to register their own company is one part of this work.