Farm Labor Healthcare = Food Justice.
During the 2019 Turmeric Harvest at the end of January, I realized that many of the laborers that work on our partner farm (90% women), have never been to the doctor. On one hand, it's a testament to the non-Western medicine practices, and the ancestral knowledge of how to care for their communities. On the other hand, stories of lost children, malnutrition, and easily treatable illnesses causing long stretches of missed work made us want to give these women and their families more options.
Whilst paying them a higher daily wage than any other farm has been a source of great pride for Prabhu, he saw as well as I did that these women were still in a vulnerable position.
Often the sole earners in the family – their health was something they were so scared of jinxing, that not knowing almost seemed better than getting any kind of diagnosis at all.
When Lona Project reached out to me, and asked how they could support women within our supply chain, I immediately thought of the 25 women that plant, care for, and harvest our turmeric. So after surveys, research and many many phone calls, we launched a healthcare pilot!!! One that we hope to add onto every farm we work with, once they pass a certain volume threshold with us.
The first part of it is comprehensive health check ups, preventative care, and immediate care for those that need it. The exchange rate, and the Indian healthcare system (that also has its problems, for sure!) works to our advantage, and for a nominal sum, 25 women get year-round healthcare that would cost more than our annual revenue if we were to get it done here in the United States.
The second part of the pilot is a kitchen garden on the farm for all the laborers to use. We realized that for many of these families, a prescription for fruits and vegetables is most valuable, and many of the issues these women were suffering from were related to a lack of access to healthy food, but primarily vegetables.
This is all still early stages, and we still have a long way to go, but I can't wait to continue to share with you as we grow and evolve this program to suit the needs of our partner farm labor.
If you had told me 2 years ago, that the little turmeric biz idea that I had as a 22 year old, could grow into this, I'd have laughed. But here we are, so THANK YOU, so so much, for the belief in this little idea that has grown into so much more, and connected us so deeply to this rainbow of 25 women in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.