With love and respect
Farmers in India and Tanzania have joined together to produce top quality organic cotton.
To produce for others also means to produce goods that people appreciate and want and for whom they are a necessity. To make products for people who appreciate one’s work is to experience gratitude for a meaningful action. To achieve this, we must ask and answer the question of needs and abilities. This is only possible in conversation.
I have been able to experience something of this through my on-going and long-standing involvement in organic cotton farming in India and Tanzania. It began with some of the farmers coming together and developing their own initiatives. They have tidied up their environment and joined with us to produce a product of better, higher quality.
Not immediately, but gradually a co-operative culture has developed. The farmers nurture their land out of love and respect. And this love and respect accompany the product's journey. At each stage, this transforms the entire supply chain all the way to the consumers, who reinforce this approach when they buy sustainable products.
On my last trip, a farmer with whom we have been cooperating for 22 years told me: "See, you enabled us to produce better, untreated maize." And in a subordinate sentence he added: "... for our descendants!" To hear this from the mouth of a Tanzanian farmer surprised me – but it was also deeply confirming. We also enjoy incredible customer loyalty! This validates what we do. And we are very grateful. Nevertheless, economic efficiency remains a key factor in the cycle of the economy. It must be achieved. Not from a position of power, but through conversation and the understanding of all involved.
Not easy, but fair
There are simpler methods to arrive at fair prices, but there is no better way to serve individuals and communities. For this, binding agreements of co-operation have to be achieved and subsequently implemented in order to ensure that the community thrives. Here the individual can develop himself. The longer you work together, the more you become interested in others and their well-being. But one also has to distance oneself from individuals who do not want to contribute to the community.
Long-term success requires above all moderation and a permanent retrospective look at what has been achieved. It's always worth it. For the others, and for that reason, for us too.