India: KRRS farmers launch “Namdu” – a producers’ cooperative run and managed by farmers

In a move to strengthen food sovereignty and to promote rural self-sufficiency, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), Amrita Bhoomi agroecology school, has set up a producers’ cooperative named “Namdu” ( meaning “ours” in the Kannada language). Farmers will be selling under the brand name Namdu making high-quality agroecology produce available at affordable prices to consumers.

In the first phase, the farmers have opened a store at Krishika Samaj in Chamarajnagara. It was inaugurated on 2nd October in honor of Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary and to bring his idea of Gram Swaraj (Village Sovereignty) to practice. “We will sell our produce directly to consumers through our brand, without the interference of middlemen. The concept of Namdu was envisioned by our leader MD Nanjundaswamy, and today we have taken a step to realize his dream,” said Honnur Prakash, Chamarajanagara district president of the KRRS.

With the governments bringing anti-farmer laws and amendments to the Land Reforms and APMC Act, it is not enough to just oppose them by protests. It is time to think and find alternative solutions. ‘Namdu’ is one such attempt for farmer’s empowerment, said Chukki Nanjundaswamy. The main objective of developing our own brand is to deliver agricultural products, cultivated using agroecological methods, directly to the local consumers, receiving a fairer price for our produce by avoiding middlemen.

Farmers groups from around 15 districts who have been involved in natural farming are a part of this effort. It is a state-level platform and is being launched in Chamarajanagar. It would be extended to other districts in phases; now, about 100 farmers practicing agroecology have joined; we plan to rope in at least 5,000 farmers in each district in the next two years, says farmers.