Who we are
How we work
Why we set up
Where we work
Team Zameen
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Who We Are

Zameen Organic is a pioneering farmer-owned marketing company for Fairtrade, organic and pesticide-free cotton.We work with marginalised farming communities in rural India to improve livelihoods by increasing efficiencies, lowering input costs and raising incomes through certification.

Zameen's ethos and objectives centre on farmer empowerment. Our farmers are the largest shareholders in Zameen and therefore play a big part in shaping our policies as well as benefitting from shareholder dividends. We also have plans for two farmers to sit on our board and we work with Agriculture and Organic Farming Group (AOFG) to train farmers and develop their organisational structure.

Zameen is also a supply chain management company, seeking out partnerships with likeminded companies to more evenly distribute profits along the value chain so that our farmers get a 'fairer' slice of the pie. We work with the textile industry and fashion brands on special projects and to help raise social and environmental standards across our supply chains, offering our customers high levels of transparency and traceability.

Empowering farmers through ownership and training

Farmer Ownership

Zameen believes in the 'trade, not aid' approach to rural development, and so do our farmers who are investing their own capital into Zameen. For every ton of raw cotton we buy from our farmers, we set aside an organisation development expense of 1,100 rupees (approximately £15) to invest in Zameen.

By 'buying in' Zameen farmers have a vested interest in the company doing well. The farmers rightly scrutinise our operations, making their opinions known and are committed and engaged with the process due to their vested interest.

Agriculture and Organic Farming Group (AOFG) AOFG Partnership

Zameen has a close partnership with AOFG, a non-profit NGO. AOFG's aim is to facilitate the development of independent, legally-registered farmer cluster associations that are self managed and able to directly sell organic Fairtrade cotton to buyers to strict international requirements. It focuses on building management teams, establishing business infrastructure (offices and storage facilities) and increasing the technical capacity of the organic farmers (to increase yields and profit potential).

Guaranteeing a transparent supply chain

By providing brands and farmers with direct access to each others' resources, Zameen reduces supply chain complexities and creates a transparent process. Direct access means minimising the supply chain to maximise benefits to farmers; cutting out middlemen and moving up the value chain.

An example of this is Zameen's partnership with Alok Industries. We entered into a three year contract with Alok, a FLO certified textile company and one of the largest mills in Asia, to guarantee the ethical credentials of our supply chain. All Zameen cotton is processed by Alok which enables us to track every product right back to our farms. Brands can be confident that their products are made to the highest ethical standards from start to finish, and they are able to inspect conditions if they choose. Zameen's long term goal is to move up the value chain, integrating manufacturing processes into our business model.

Why we setup

Cotton farmers in India often do not receive a 'fair' price; sometimes earning less than the sustainable cost of production. Zameen works with small-holder and marginal farmers who are struggling to maintain their businesses. Living outside of mainstream development they are often highly vulnerable to loses beyond their control and have little or no access to support.

Many of Zameen's farmers had been forced to borrow money at extortionate rates of interest. Unable to repay their loans and support their families, suicide is seen as the only dignified way out. In the Amravati district of Maharashtra 5,000 farmers commit suicide every year.

By joining Zameen, marginalised farmers such as these have been able to escape spiralling debt and binding contracts to moneylenders. There have been no suicides amongst the 5,000 farmers we work with since we set up in 2006. Farmers have regained their dignity through self determination and fair trading conditions.

In promoting organic cotton and freeing farmers from their dependency to expensive agrichemicals, outgoing costs can be reduced by up to 50%. Infamously referred to as dirty cotton, the commodity accounts for 16% of global insecticide use, far more than any other crop despite occupying just 2.4% of the world's agricultural land. The World Health Organisation estimates the cotton industry consumes $2 billion worth of chemical pesticides annually, just under half of which it classifies as hazardous.

Agrochemical can seriously damage our environment; they contaminate local water supplies, degrade soil quality and harm wildlife. Farming communities also suffer from direct exposure, with diseases including cancer linked to their use. Through training farmers in organic farming practices, Zameen farmers have also seen dramatic improvements in their health. Soil fertility is maintained and replenished through green manure and crop rotation, preserving the natural resilience of the crops and increasing and sustaining yields.

As a Fairtrade certified organisation, farmers are no longer vulnerable to distorted and volatile market prices. Market prices do not simply reflect supply and demand, they are other external forces such as agricultural subsidies that depress market prices. Fairtrade guarantees a minimum price which covers sustainable farming and living conditions. The Fairtrade premium, an additional sum, is also earned by the farmer association, which is democratically invested in community development projects. So far, Zameen farmers have invested in water wells, their children's education and back into their businesses.

Fairtrade rules also prohibit child labour and encourage movement towards gender equality. Better knowledge of international markets and organising into an association has given Zameen farmers increased negotiating power and a stronger collective voice.

Where we work

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.

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.

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 Andhra Pradesh, Zameen works 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.

Our Team

Satish Chukkapalli, Co Founder, Director.

Satish Chukkapalli is an MBA in International Marketing and HR; Satish has 16 years experience in the field of International Marketing & Product Development of Textile garments Manufacturing and exporting Fair-trade & Organic textiles to major fashion brands across Europe. Expert in structuring the social sustainable textile supply chain from Organic cotton fields to the Leading Textile brands around the world is his core domain strengths.

Zammen Organic team consists of Organic agriculture engineer from Wageningen University, Netherlands. Having 10 yrs. experience in the field of organic farming in India, Tanzania and Europe. The team members had worked in standardizing bodies like IFOAM, Fair-trade Labeling Organization and Social Accountability International.

Zameen works closely with reputed NGO organizations in capacity building, child labor eradication, health standards, women’s empowerment, watersheds & nutrition. Zameen works closely with foreign interns from various reputed universities around the world in capturing various environmental, Social and economical impacts caused in the whole Zameen Value Chain.