Statement of Candidacy
I am an organic farmer and have been involved in the field of rural development since the late 1970s, helping to empower small holder farmers, agricultural labourers, Dalits and other disadvantaged and marginalised communities, artisans, women, children and People with Disabilities.
In the initial part of my career, I was a social activist working with agricultural labourers and peasants. I was also associated with various mass movements. In 1990, when I co-founded the Timbaktu Collective and established the 32-acre ‘Timbaktu’ agro-forest habitat and intentional community, my work and personal orientation began moving away from direct political action and agitational politics. With my partner and my colleagues, I began to regenerate and revive the local economy, enhance livelihood opportunities, help regain food security and food sovereignty, and work on large-scale ecological restoration. In addition, I gradually established myself as a leading organic farmer in the region.
The Timbaktu Collective is a grassroots non-profit organisation which works with marginalised people in the drought-prone and ecologically challenged Anantapuramu District in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The Collective works in 172 villages, partnering with 22,763 families through various thematic programmes: financial inclusion of rural women, organic farming, enterprise development, ecological restoration, child rights and the rights of People with Disabilities. At present, I am the Chief Functionary and Director of the Ecology, Livelihoods and Enterprise Development programmes of the Collective.
The Collective has established and promoted 14 community-owned and managed Cooperatives [of rural women, small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers, People with Disabilities, and tree growers] in order to demonstrate a model of local production, consumption and distribution, and provide an alternative to mainstream economic systems, which are often ecologically and socially exploitative. These alternatives have the potential to facilitate a vibrant local economy based on ecological sustainability, fair trade, and social and economic inclusion.
Of particular relevance is our work in developing the Dharani Farming and Marketing Cooperative (Dharani FaM Coop Ltd.), a cooperative of small and marginal farmers which is now a successful business enterprise that procures, processes and markets the produce of its members under the brand name ‘Timbaktu Organic’. Dharani FaM Coop Ltd., has 2,042 shareholders, all of whom practice organic agriculture while cultivating traditionally resilient millets, pulses and oilseeds on 10,568 acres of land. Around 75% of its members (1,513 shareholders) are certified organic as per the peer-based Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) inspired by IFOAM.
In terms of my networking engagements, I am the Secretary and Founding Member of the PGS Organic India Council; a Founding and Core Group Member of the Fair Climate Network India, the Millet Network of India, and the Vikalp Sangam; and a Founding and Executive Member of the Slow Food India Network. Among the various awards that we have received, the “One World - 2015” award presented by Rapunzel and IFOAM, is very precious - http://www.one-world-award.com/mary-vattamattam-bablu-ganguly.html
Having been instrumental in the genesis and growth of a number of development institutions, peoples’ organisations and networks for almost four decades, and having been both a promoter and practioner of organic farming for more than 25 years, I have gained a range of multifaceted experiences, competencies, and leadership skills, which are essential to be part of a team that leads the global organic movement. Most importantly, I have profound faith in the value and relevance of organic and life sustaining agriculture in nourishing our ecosystems, providing healthy food, strengthening the socio-economic status of small and marginal farmers, and promoting equitable and just relationships between farmers, consumers, traders, investors, and public institutions.
I am honoured to offer my candidacy for elections to the IFOAM World Board for 2017-2020. As a member of the IFOAM World Board, I look forward to contributing to the growth of the organisation and the organic agriculture movement through passion, commitment and team work while amplifying the voice of the peasants and the small and marginal farmers.
Background of the Candidate/ Resume
Co-Founder, farmer, and resident at 'Timbaktu', a 32-acre agro-forest habitat and intentional community doing organic agriculture, using renewable energy and living sustainably.
Co-Founder-Director of the Timbaktu Collective, a grassroots NGO which implements thematic programmes including, but not limited to, organic agriculture, while working towards the sustainable development of the resource-poor Anantapuramu District – www.timbaktu.org.
Promoter and CEO of the Dharani Farming and Marketing Cooperative Limited, a leading farmer-owned and managed business enterprise in south India, which procures, processes and markets organic produce under the brand name 'Timbaktu Organic'. Dharani has a membership of 2,113 certified smallholder farmers who cultivate traditional, nutrient-rich millet crops, oil seeds and pulses across 10,568 acres – www.timbaktu-organic.org.
Founding Member + Secretary - PGS (Participatory Guarantee Scheme) Organic India Council
Founding Board Member - Slow Food India Network
Core Group Member – Vikalp Sangam, India
Core Group Member – Fair Climate Network
Member - Bio-Dynamic Association of India
Member – Millet Network of India
Member – Urgenci International
Member – IFOAM - Organics International
‘One World Award 2014’ presented by Rapunzel Naturkost GmbH and IFOAM;
‘Real Heroes 2013’ (Environment) presented by CNN-IBN;
‘Couple of the Year Award - 2005’ presented by the WEEK Magazine;
Ashoka Fellow (elected 1993); • Smile Fellow (elected 1991)
Promoter | Chief Executive Officer
DHARANI FAM COOP LTD – April 2008 to present
CEO - September 2016 to present.
Co-Founder | Chief Functionary | Director
THE TIMBAKTU COLLECTIVE - November 1990 to present
Chief Functionary – 2014 to present;
Director of the Collective's thematic programmes on organic agriculture, ecology, livelihoods and enterprise development;
Responsible for leadership, visioning, policy, training, fundraising, and PME (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation);
Representing the organisation in national and international forums;
Conceptualising and promoting producer-owned business enterprises
YOUNG INDIA PROJECT - April 1978 to October 1990
Chairperson (1984 to 1990);
Project Director / Trainer (1982-90);
Community Organiser / Trainer (1978-82);
Co-founder of the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Labourers Unions.
Bachelor of Commerce, Bangalore University, 1974-77