Ben & Jerry

Going Indian natural

Eco Agri Research Foundation (EARF), based in Mysore, Karnataka, has got the fair trade certificate by the UK-based Fairtrade Labelling Organisation International (FLO). Now the foundation along with its trade partner Danisco, a vanilla extractor based in the US, will sell "fair-trade' vanilla to the iconic Ben & Jerry's ice cream of the US. In this ice cream, marketed as classic vanilla, Ben & Jerry also has fair-trade certification for its sugar from farmers in Paraguay.

The certification is a means to ensure that farmers internationally are paid fair price for their crops even when prices fall below market benchmarks. It also ensures that the methods of farming used by them are sustainable and non-exploitative. FLO annually inspects producers to ensure that socio-economic criterion is followed using increased fair trade revenue, in addition to sustainable farm management.

According to Jai Chaitanya Dasa, managing trustee of EARF, the foundation has over 600 farmers from four different small producer groups in Karnataka. Of these, 344 farmers are supplying vanilla beans for US $5.30 per kg (Rs 230 per kg), the minimum farm gate price set by FOL for vanilla. "We have been working closely with the farmer groups and have ensured that apart from the correct price, social projects have been under taken for their betterment.'

Apart from the price a Fairtrade premium is also paid to the farmer organisations