Organic Lighthouse Models in India
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
The Timbaktu Collective in the state Andhra Pradesh and the organic dairy Akshayakalpa in Karnataka are organic lighthouse models and best practice for working for common goods. In November 2019 a group of organic stakeholders from Europa visited these projects and were very impressed what has been achieved there. Read also the detailed interview with Timbaktu founder Bablu Ganguly.
Timbaktu is a community in the South East Indian state Andra Pradesh and the organic dairy Akshayakalpa is located in Tiptur, Karnataka. Timbaktu is a lighthouse example combining agroecology, organic agriculture and social entrepreneurship.
Bablu Ganguly and Mary Vattamattam founded Timbaktu - an intentional community and collective in 1990. They were convinced that something must be done for the further development and support of the rural population. Timbaktu, a dry, barren piece of land turned into a collective, rich in many senses. The non-profit organisation works in 182 villages with about 25,000 families, as a model for other eco-villages and communities. The socio-ecological community opens up new perspectives by adding value to crops and market them together.
Small holder farmers are empowered through organic farming but also rights of children, youth, people with disabilities and Dalits (Untouchables) are tasks maintained by Timbaktu.
The Collective has also played a critical role in the promotion of organic farming and marketing organic products in India and the concept of environmental sustainability.
Timbaktu has promoted the concept of producer-owned business enterprises through Cooperatives by incorporating the ideas of solidarity, transparency and democratic co-determination.
„To make change happen, we had to be ready for a marathon“, Bablu knew before they started Timbaktu. „Resist, Revive, Restore and Re-vitalise has become our theme.“
The idea is to build relationships and social capital. Strong, cordial, cooperative, honest and respectful relationships. This is the core and key element. Everything in the community is organized into Sanghas a very transparent and democratic system with shareholders and elected Directors, etc that meet at least once a month. These Sanghas are federated into legally registered Cooperatives.
"People want good food. Yet not everybody wants to pay the premium that organic demands. And, this is where the ideal of common goods economy comes in", Bablu explains. "All should understand the four principles that define organic – Health, Ecology, Fairness, and Care lead to revitalization of the local economy, environmental sustainability, human dignity, solidarity, social justice, transparency and democratic co-determination. This is also the meaning of true cost accounting."
Tiptur in the state of Karnataka is the home of Akshayakalpa Organic Dairy. Shashi Kumar, CEO and Co-Founder of Akshayakalpa says: "We are working with small holder farmers and trying to grow them as entrepreneurs producing organic milk and increasing their income. Consumers are willing to pay more for these organic products." Akshayakalpa is the largest organic dairy project in India. They process around 120,000 l a day and hope go to 200,000 l in the next years. The broad assortment - milk, curd, butter, cheese - is delivered daily to thousands of clients in Bangalore. By now the home delivery goes to 30.000 clients and should grow to 100,000 clients in Bangalore and around.
The fresh organic milk is gathered from small farms, directly cooled and manufactured in the dairy with its professional equipment. Ghee which is highly demanded in India is also produced. Different sorts of cheese are made. The own laboratory controlls the quality. A very professional system of control maintains the freshness and quality of the organic milk. Farmers in neighborhoods work together in clusters, to cool the milk and make it ready for the transport to the dairy.
A model farm close to the dairy unit is testing different fodder mixes, different cow races and methods keeping the cows. A training center gives farmers the opportunity for improvement.
Raghuram is training co-ordinator for the model farm and explains what farmers can learn at the Akshayakalpa farm. As there is good perspective with farming organically, also young people are again interested in agriculture and to stay in their villages.
Akshayakalpa has improved the lives of many farmers yet.
Happy farmer family that improve its life with organic milk farming.