Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dedicated to the supply chain in Farmland Indore India

Maia in impish certified organic cotton child's play print top.
Maia in imp`ish certified organic cotton clothes Hello Sailor Top and Long John Leggings.

 This blog is dedicated to all those people in my supply chain that make imp`ish organic cotton kids clothes possible especially the farmers! 
I have had such trial with my production supplier with this delivery in June even after my trip to India to meet the owner of the factory I use and build a relationship with him and the production team. In retrospect it doesn't matter, the modest humble people in the farmland on Indore made me feel like I was supporting a greater good and to not let any of these quality control issues stop me from producing in India.

When I think back to my last few days of my short trip to India...i feel all tingly that I got to see the a part rural farm land and stay with a family, ( which I 'll have to talk about in my next blog entry)
Even though my nerves were shattered into teeny tiny egg shell like pieces i managed to enjoy my situation and stay in the moment.
My first bit of excitement was booking my train ticket at the International booking office at the Delhi train station the long was at least 30 people representing many nations of travelers all ages. I thought I communicated well that I wanted 1st class no air conditioning being that it was Spring. However when I arrived at the train station at 10.30pm that night my carriage and set was definitely sleeper class...and too my surprise I was surrounded by men in my lower bunk location. I nervously dragged all my luggage that I checked out of my hotel through the streets and onto the train going to Indore an expected 12 hour journey. Pulling and carrying my bags onto the train I disturbed a few families before arriving to my bed/seat, of course my fellow bed dwellers were already snug with luggage locked onto there bunks.
I made sure my latest Mac book pro was tucked under my head, it was a hard pillow but i was tired and also a little frighten to close my eyes. Thankfully I had bought 2 blankets from a near by shop owner a few nights before with 3 scarves for 300 rupees and snuggled my cold feet into them and around my head which lay in the draft from the window. Where in wafted the fragrant smells of human and animal waste with spicy under tones and the noise of the old train.
I first woke to the morning clearing of the nasal passages of my male bunk bed dweller opposite me which was not what i expected sleep was not deep but was event full with the opposite top bunk male going up and down the bunks all night which freaked me out cause he stepped on my bed a few times.
The morning air was full of train smells combo of popcorn, dahl and wees.
Everyone had toothbrush and flannel in hand taking turns to the what i thought was a bathroom but when told its not a bathroom i deside to keep working my pelvic floor muscles and continue to hold on till our arrival. The bunks were folded up after chanting and we engaged in conversation about yet again what does my husband do what was his wage? Well i had to tell some lies about that  (being that we had just separated that would be difficult to explain)...

Children waving to the train.
I was thankful to the kind men in my train compartment who rang the contact for me and spoke to them in Hindi and explained when i was arriving so I was meet at the Indore train station by the driver and taken to Mahima Purespun office to meet the company Owner and director. 
There we went for lunch and had a wonderful meal and I quized him about the company, the cooperative of farms and how they have helped the community in the farm area with a social project with a school for those families that work with Mahima Purespun.

All the seed is provided free to the farmers, conversion to organic takes 2 years.
The National Certification of India NPOP all USDA IFOAM standards 50rpc to set up, 50% fees upfront 50% after audit.

4 acres = 800kg = 32,000rpc or 40rpc kilo.
Mahima Coop and Ginning Mill has 190 farmers 10000archers Bakner area the farmers manager Pawan named his daughter Jajuaka which mean Organic in Hindi.
Cotton takes 210 days to grow harvest is in June – October. 1st season sow crops need a lots of water usually dependant on the rainy season which is from May 15th – June 30th.
The farmer industry in the area industry are: 1st cotton, 2nd maize, 3rd soy, 4th wheat, 5th chilli.
The Bakner area most fertile in the country for many crops. 2nd season for cropping  February wheat  2-3 harvests per year.
1 lorry = 1250 quintals 1 quintals = 100kgs arrive daily per truck. During September – October the mill goes all day with many lorries arriving with 1250 quintals load.

 Raw cotton is sorted into piles of grades which is then put onto conveyor belt to start ginning process. It goes through 2 stages of ginning to remove seeds and pods from the cotton boles.
The seeds go out side on a conveyor belts and into piles to be sold for cotton oil. After ginning the cotton is put on another conveyer belt being feed into machinery for compressing into bales according to grades to be sold per bale weight at 165kgs.

Cotton ready for bale machinery bales weight 165 kilos
500 tonnes a month at Mahima Purespun spinning mill the company that spins our cotton. 35000 - 50000 acrchers of farmland with Bangladesh the biggest buyer of organic cotton for the European market. 
Spinning mill 60000 bale 165kg bale 55% humidity required for cotton to be spun onto reels.

20% waste sell waste wholesale clean it twice for road side market. Processing raw bales gets sucked by machinary which gets sucked through to spinning machinery.
Fibres are pulled together for 1st thick spinning cylinders then spun to single thick fibre yarn then high speed single thin yarn then triple spin for yarn to reels according to weight 1.25-2.5kg.

Packaging cotton reels ready for boxing to be sold and sent for fabric manufacturing.
 Whole process form start to finish takes 8 hours. Factory runs all day long 8 hour shift for workers all fair trade certified Purespun Mill Factory.
After visiting the mill and the ginning plant some 2 hours from Indore, I stayed the night and had a fresh day off to the farm and the school. 

The high light was the farm the family I felt up prepared as I had no gifts for them. The home was so modest and tribal made of clay and cows manure and urine. The family was 3 generations under one roof with extended family uncles aunties and cousins too. They gave me a gift of a coconut and greeted me with one of the young woman putting the red clay Hindu symbol on my forehead that was incredible to be part of that cultural tradition for visitor who are treated as gods in their homes.

First awkward photo in their house, they were so shy.

The farmers use enriched compost and biodynamic practises, using cow manure urine concentrate in bulls horns buried under the ground for a month and then create a spray with neem oil and water with the concentrate as a natural pesticide and fertiliser that feeds the crops. 

The round cow pat cakes are used as a fuel to burn in the fires and are slow burning all waste from the cows are used and scared.
I respected and was blessed by there generosity, they asked me if I was hungry and feed me small crab apple like fruit straight from the tree in the middle of the cotton crop. They asked me if I liked maze(corn) which of course I said yes and they started a fire and picked corn straight from the plants and throw them on the open fire in the husks. This was amazing moment to not be able to be understood with the language barrier but the human connection with them and the children was a great feeling one I will never forget and hope to have again in my next trip.  They gave me a coconut which I tried to give back to the oldest son took it with me and gave to my drivers family.

Picking the crab like apples from the tree.

Cooking corn in the husk on the fire...eating was done by picking the kernels off with your fingers.

Family children playing with me.

My respect of course went most to the women the mothers who worked extremely hard. I tried to get the farm manager to translate to them that you Indian women on the farms work much harder then women from my home in New Zealand and that we sit on our bottoms alot...they laughed and said they didn't understand. They have so many chores with no electricity and plumbing to help them with cleaning and cooking and the animals they have to tend to with milking and feeding. Plus when its harvest they work all day to pick 25 kilos of raw cotton a day which when you think how light cotton (or compare with cotton wool) seems a huge task.
The cotton and other crops are stored in the house to keep dry and they sleep mostly out side in wooden slate beds (without mattresses). I love and respect these people and it brought me to tears when I was leaving. I gave the children some pencils, made a effort to give the head of the family rupees which was welcomed.

Picking cotton in their aprons and caps to keep the cotton free from contamination.
I'm thankful for the experienced how its motivated me to continue producing and supporting the organic cotton industry in India. Planning my own mission project to contribute to set up a school near the slums by the manufacturing factory. Life is good and blessed with so many choices to help create some change.

Much love
Joanne xo