An estimated 2000 farmers attended this year’s Vidarbha Organic Farmers Association (VOFA) AGM to share their ideas and celebrate another year of success! VOFA is the name of the farmer association for Zameen farmers based in Maharashtra.
The day got off to a great start, as the farmers filtered in to visit some extraordinary stalls which showcased the innovative farming and business practices of all the region’s clusters (in this region the farmers are organised into seven groupings called clusters). Zameen was proud sponsor of the VOFA annual review, and also held its own stall to communicate to its farmer members how it works with partners across the supply chain. My highlights included miniature models of composting units, an effigy of a hanged farmer to highlight the suicide crisis and a farmer dressed in traditional clothes holding up a giant plough.
The proceedings continued with traditional flower garlands presented to all the speakers. In addition to the Chairman of AOFG, Mr Koshy, and Zameen Director, Gijs Spoor, the newly appointed Project Head, Dharmistha Chauha made a rousing speech. After a delicious lunch and chance to network, the farmers also had their opportunity to address the AGM, and I was delighted to see two impassioned female farmers speak.
Awards were presented for the best stall, cluster office, male and female farmer and Farmer Group and the day then drew to a close with a cultural programme. A local NGO called Rasikashraya performed one of their established shows about the merits of organic farming. Rasikashraya uses performance to communicate social messages to a variety of audiences based on briefs given by the organisations that hire them. The farmers were in stitches at the camp performance, which also touched on the sensitive farmer suicide issue.