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Introducing the Farm Worker Fund!

farmers at the Aranya Pepper farm carrying the harvest in baskets

Written by

Team Diaspora Co.

 

This year, we are SO excited and hopeful as we announce the launch of our Farm Worker Fund. The intention is to set aside money that goes above and beyond our ongoing social impact and specifically towards implementing programs that directly support the farm workers on each farm. 

We are establishing the Farm Worker Fund (FWF) to champion the most important sector of South Asia’s regenerative agriculture future — the health, education, and livelihoods of farm workers.

The fund will prioritize the social and economic well-being of the 850+ farm workers in our spice supply chains. These farm workers are often from the most vulnerable migrant, Dalit, and tribal communities in South Asia and have been systemically denied access to basic rights, health, education, and dignified living.

In 2019, we launched a healthcare program on our Pragati Turmeric partner farm that provided 25 women with comprehensive healthcare (you can read more about it here). We continued this program for nearly three years until we realized that we didn’t have the tools or buy-in to scale that program in its existing form. In the spirit of wanting to have real, meaningful impact, the FWF will enable us to build upon that work, conduct research around the most pressing gaps in our farm partners' communities, and, ultimately, deepen our support for farm workers in a way that is most beneficial to them.

How is this different from what Diaspora already does, you may ask? While every purchase you make from Diaspora supports South Asian farm communities and ensures equitable pay for farm workers, there are limits to how much impact we are able to fund through spice purchases alone. The Farm Worker Fund allows us to more directly provide support to workers on our partners' farms and give them agency on what that support looks like. 

Who’s leading this? Our Sourcing Manager Kumud and Social Impact Consultant Reema are surveying farm workers across the subcontinent as we speak and working to develop programs in direct collaboration with our partnering farm workers. 

How did you raise money for the fund? Instead of hosting a Black Friday sale in 2022, we pledged to donate 10% of the sales from 11/22-11/29  to the fund. We then raised $22k, exceeding our goal of $20k! At this stage, we are completing thorough surveys across 32 farms. We will then use the initial $22k we raised to pilot programming across our three oldest and dearest farm partners — the Baraka Cardamom farm run by the Chacko family, the Aranya Pepper farm run by the Parameswaran family, and the Pragati Turmeric farm run by the Kasaraneni family. We will then slowly expand programming to more farms as we have the time and resources to do so.

So how can you contribute? In the future, we hope to accept donations directly to the fund, stay tuned for updates on this front!

How will the money be used? The FWF will be used to fund social impact initiatives across our partner farms. To assess what initiatives are most meaningful, Kumud and Reema are currently conducting a three-month survey, speaking to farm workers about their needs. We are taking this step to ensure that we are not just "helping" workers based on our assumptions of what would be most helpful, and to ensure we are accounting for differences in needs across ten states. This survey will inform the programming we are developing and ensure it is appropriately tailored to the specific needs of workers at each farm. 

As we determine how to best meet our farm workers' needs, we’re committed to being fully transparent about how this money is used. We'll be providing regular updates, sharing how each dollar is used — healthcare, education, women’s health programming, etc.!

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