With the introduction of tea and other mono-crops in the Nilgiris area, traditional agricultural practices have started to dwindle and the use of harmful chemicals on local farms has increased. When Keystone started its work in the NBR, fertiliser consumption was among the highest in the country and since that time, the topic of organic agriculture has been a consistent theme in the Foundation’s work. From working with villagers to promote organic practices, to the certification and marketing of local products as organic to a national and international market, the organic movement in the Nilgiris has come a long way. However, Keystone recognizes that there is still a vast amount of work that needs to be done, and alongside our partners Aadhimalai Producer Co-operative and Last Forest Enterprise, strives to support economic, social, and environmental motivations for organic farms.
The importance of organic farming is stressed by Keystone for both health and environmental reasons–and consumer markets are catching up. It pays to be clean, and demand for organic produce provides compelling incentives for tribal farmers to go organic. Additionally, as organic agriculture becomes more popular and viable, the Nilgiris are seeing a rise in traditional agricultural practices, as both consumers and locals put a premium on the nutritional value of their foods. Keystone has been providing resources, information and support, both to farmers and consumers, so that they can make better choices–both for their health and the health of the land we share.