In 2011, farmers of the Fair Trade Alliance Kerala came together to host the very first Seed Fest. Four years on, it has become a space for farmers from the region to promote biodiversity, food security and gender justice by sharing knowledge, exchanging seeds and displaying their produce. The Seed Fest is an initiative of the Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, an organisation co-founded by Tomy Mathews which brings together farmers and enable them to trade on Fairtrade terms of minimum support pricing and the benefit of a Fairtrade Premium.
Here’s a pictorial tour of the FTAK Seed Fest 2015:
1. A farmer from the Mananthavady taluk in the Wayanad district of Kerala grows 26 kinds of chillies, welcome news at a time when the FAO estimates that since the “beginning of this century, about 75 per cent of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost.”
2. We eat more homogenously today and according to the FAO, “just nine crops (wheat, rice, maize, barley, sorghum/millet, potato, sweet potato/yam, sugar cane and soybean) account for over 75 percent of the plant kingdom’s contribution to human dietary energy”. Yet, farmers at the Seed Fest had different species of brinjal – from purple to yellow in colour.
3. There were crimson coloured chillies and plum-coloured beans on display.
4. We were fascinated by the variety of bhindi there.
5. Shobhana (extreme right) is the secretary of the Thavinjal Panchayath from Mananthavady as well. The woman farmer’s stall had a banner up which read, “Gender Justice”. When we asked her what it means to her, she said that her being at the Seed Fest said it all.
6. Shobhana showed us some gorgeous greens beautifully wrapped in plantains. She smiled and told us, “Who needs plastic, right?”
7. Sunni (centre), another organic and Fairtrade farmer told us that since the time (ten years ago) he switched to organic farming, he finds that his personal health has improved.
8. His produce was staggering with different kinds of gourds, yams, tapioca, chillies, and grams.
9. We went home with a variety of seeds for our balcony gardens and with an appreciation of the farmers who grow our food.