The 19th Organic World Congress (OWC) was held at the India Export Centre and Mart- Greater Noida, from 9th to 11th – November 2017. The theme of the congress was ’An organic world through an Organic India’. An event of such significance took place for the first time in India, where national and international organic farmers came together to share, learn and display their experience and knowledge on organics. The congress had three major tracks – the main track focused on participatory discussions on various topics in relation to the global organic world. The scientific track emphasized on recent research on organic systems. While the marketing track focused on exploring and creating links for the future generation and upcoming farmers. The event also provided the opportunity for organic farmers to present and demonstrate their successful organic systems.

Keystone Foundation has been promoting organic farming among tribal farmers for the last two decades. We’ve provided support for crops such as coffee, pepper, areca, fruits, vegetable and millet that are grown through organic means. These products are value added and marketed through a tribal farmer producer company –Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Ltd – (APPCL), which was incubated by Keystone Foundation. Five tribal farmers who have been involved in this process have presented their different farming experience to the congress. The farmers shared their practices and success stories at the event.  This was a rare opportunity for this set of farmers to present at an international level and it was their first visit to the National Capital as well.

Ayasamy is an Irula tribal farmer and village leader hailing from Ittarai village of Thimbam hills of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu.  He made a presentation on his initiative of developing a village seed bank and regarding the benefits that the farmers of Ittrai where able to reap from such as set up. Ms. Selvakumari, an organic farmer from Pondicherry translated Ayyasamy’s presentation to the entrants.

Valliamma is an Irula tribal women farmer hailing from Ittarai village of Thimbam hills of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. She gave a presentation on how her village were able to revive the traditional millets, in order to increase bio diversity, an initiative that she had taken up. She spoke about the different variety of millets – foxtail millet, little millet, finger millet and associated crops like amaranths, pulses, cereals, vegetables that have enriched the bio diversity on her farm. Mr. Jayakaran, Bio-dynamic farmer and organic entrepreneur translated Valliamma’s presentation.

K.Chandran is an Irula tribal youth from Nellimarathur village located in the Pillur valley of Coimbatore district. He shared his success on ecological farming practices that he had adopted while growing bananas. Every input he uses while farming  is prepared by him. Raw materials are obtained directly from his farm. He also mentioned how this helped maintain and enrich the ecological value of the farm.

M.Nanjan is an Irula tribal who hails from Bangalapadigai village, situated in the Arcode region. He is also the village leader and convener of Bangalapadigai’s PGS farmers group. His presentation was regarding the story of how he was able to develop sustainable farming techniques for organic coffee production. He shared his experience of cultivating Coffee (Arabica), using sustainable methods because of which he was able to attain the tag of a certified PGS farmers.  His coffee is now marketed through the Farmer producer company (APPCL) with the logo of PGS OC – A medium through which farmers get premium price for the harvest and a share of the after sale profit. Once in a while his farm is used to demonstrate organic preparations for the neighbouring farmers in the valley. Ms. Nimi John of Earth Trust, assisted Nanjan in his presentation and helped translate as well.

Janaki is an award winner of Paul.K. Feyeraband award by Both ENDS (Netherlands) in 2016. She belongs to the Kurumba tribe. She is the community leader and Managing Director in APPCL-farmer Producer Company. She presented on the organic techniques that she has been using to grow coffee and pepper. The aftermath of the presentation was clearly visible at the stall where the coffee was being sold.