Seeds of hope germinating: Rudolf Buehler presents the project that links farmers in Germany and Zanzibar

It is late on Monday, or let´s say it feels late at least. Rudolf Bühler, Chairman of the Swabian Farmer´s Association and Marketing Organisation (BESH) in southern Germany, presented a short film introducing their collaboration with spice farmers in Kerala and Zanzibar.

BESH is well known in southern Germany as a showcase of farmers organising themselves to marketing the multiple values of their produce. BESH farmers have revived a local Swabian pig breed (Schwäbisch Hällisches Landschwein) and are successfully generating fair prices for their members.

The film “Seeds of Hope” shows how the BESH is trying to establish close links between all elements of the value chain - now also by including the direct exchange with spice producers in Kerala and Zanzibar. Rudolf Bühler started this cooperation in Kerala, India, where smallholder farmers produce local varieties of pepper, cardamom or cloves in a traditional multi-layered mixed cropping system, because he recognized how this growing system was already organic before being certified as such.

Four years ago, a second project was begun in Zanzibar. Formerly a slave´s island, farmers have no access to the world market. It seems symbolic to reestablish connections between North and South today on an eye-to-eye level. “Seeds of hope is a medium to bring prosperity to farmers”, Bühler said. It is a correspondence of goods and experience. BESH tries to exchange in a supportive way, paying fair prices above world market level, creating job opportunities, and pushing social investments like schools for farmers' children. “We should live justice!”, he stated his motivation.

Enabling farmers to claim their rights is a key element for giving farmers a voice. In March 2017 (08/03/2017 to 10/03/2017) Bühler will launch a congress in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, leading up to a charta on farmer´s rights. It is a visionary project, that wants to self-enable farmers and create direct links to overcome the increasing non-transparency of value chains. Farmers have been the basement of every society and development processes, yet have gone out of these processes the most marginalised. And Rudolf Bühler´s goal is to change this. More Information on the congress on global peasants rights can be found here!

It would be most interesting to follow up on the partnerships between the farmers. BESH has introduced organic certification - will fair trade certifications do the same? It´s a question of trust and certificates, that serve as means to establish trust between consumers and producers. You can find more information on BESH here!


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