Emmaus International

Across all continents, Emmaus organisations are developing alternatives that respect people and the environment. In India, the Emmaus organisation Kudumbam has been working since 1982 to develop sustainable and responsible agriculture to fight against poverty.

"For several years climate change has been affecting small farmers, although their produce supports thousands of people around the world", explains Oswald Quintal, founder of the Emmaus organisation Kudumbam. "Privatisation and irresponsible use of water, which are consequences of globalisation and the Green Revolution carried out by India since its independence, have increased the scale of this disaster. The poorest are worst affected, although they are the ones least responsible. ".

The aim of the organisation is to fight poverty through responsible use of water and a return to traditional agricultural techniques. After starting his career as a civil engineer specialising in irrigation, Oswald became interested in the subject of agro-ecology, to enable peasants and those in the most severe poverty to preserve soil quality, to improve their production yield and also to ensure their income, enabling them to pay for their basic needs. " Thanks to ecological methods of agriculture, they have managed to double their food production in a decade", he explains.

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For 33 years Oswald and his organisation have been developing techniques based on collecting rain water, diversification of crops and innovative methods for soil irrigation and fertilisation. These techniques are tested on the group's organic farm, which has been named Kolunji. Traditional varieties of green and starchy vegetables are grown by the employees and the farmers who have come for training. After 30 years of training at Kudumbam, 500 farmers have achieved "organic farming" certification. The organisation has also set up an Asian network to fight pesticides.

The Emmaus organisation Kudumbam has proved that alternatives that respect people and the environment are possible and that they can be effective in the fight against poverty. This success gives them a credible platform for lobbying the authorities on ecological issues. "However this is not enough, and we must continue to demand our rights from the public authorities, and to bring the voice of the poorest to spaces of discussion." concludes Oswald.

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