Zameen works with 5,000 cotton farmers in two states in South India, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Within Maharashtra, Zameen works with farmers in the Amravati district of the Vidarbha region. This region, with its tropical climate is renowned for its farming, yet despite the favourable conditions, 26 farmers reportedly commit suicide every day.
Central India has the perfect tropical climate needed for growing cotton and has been cultivated here for over 3,000 years. India is now the largest cotton exporter in the world
An estimated 10 million households in the country are engaged in cotton growing, sustaining a huge $10-12 billion industry. As a developing economy, India needs this income from exports and the small/medium enterprises the industry generates.
Like many countries during the 1950s food shortage, Indian farmers were encouraged to use hi-tech methods to increase yields. Pesticides and insecticides were heavily promoted in the area despite the fact they increased input costs by nearly 50%. Farmers, dependent on these agrochemicals are drowning in debt and suffering from near fallow fields.
The area, however, has a history of ecological awareness and was receptive to Zameen's vision. There is a famous group near Amravati where followers of Mahatma Gandhi practice organic farming inspired by his teachings.
Within united Andhra Pradesh, Zameen worked with farmers in the Adilabad region in both the Wankidi district and in Kagaznagar. These are part of the tribal areas known as adivasi. Farmers here have been isolated from mainstream development and communication and have poor access to education. The farm land here is drier but farmers are enthusiastic for organic farming and better prices.
The main players are of course the farmers themselves but there are many other players in Team Zameen