Elements & Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, South India

Quick fact-check

Pakka Fairtrade partner since:
November 2005

Number of farming families:
3,500

Surface area:
600 ha certified organic

Main products:
Cashew nuts, spices, coffee, cocoa, coconut- based products

Certificates:
Max Havelaar, Bio-Suisse, EU organic

Country and region:
India, Kerala

About Elements & Fair Trade Alliance Kerala

Pakka is part of Elements and Elements is part of Pakka – not just because the excellent cashew nuts we import into Switzerland from India still form our core business, but also because our two companies have trodden the selfsame path since the very beginning. Elements are Tomy Mathew and his wife, whose commitment has borne such splendid fruit. Elements doesn’t just trade cashews; it exports coffee, spices and coconut-based products too.

Everyone who meets Tomy Mathew is bowled over by the boundless energy of this small man who also founded Fair Trade Alliance Kerala. “Dignity instead of charity” is his leitmotiv and one he follows with all his heart. His commitment to Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK) has had a considerable impact, among many other things, on conserving the region’s rich biodiversity and in accompanying the farmers as they tend their cashew nut trees and deliver their harvest to FTAK’s warehouses. For the downward pressure on world prices has made farmers in some places turn to crops for which there is greater demand, and old varieties have started to disappear. We are delighted that our joint work helps to ensure that this happens less often. Our Malabar pepper is one such specialty variety that makes its way to Switzerland thanks to the efforts of Fair Trade Alliance Kerala.

The price premium the products obtain in the market doesn’t only go to the individual farmers; a proportion of it is always put towards community projects. It has, for example, financed the construction of a new school kitchen. School kitchens make a crucial contribution to improving the lot of the poor in India, since they ensure that children from poor families get one free hot meal per day.

The raw materials Elements trades are both Fairtrade and organic certified. That is part of our common philosophy, i.e. that our approach to business must always be seen as part of our greater economic and ecological responsibility to society, not as something separate from the community and the environment. We are proud to be able to accompany these wonderful people and to be ‘ambassadors’ for their achievements here in the North. We would also like to congratulate Tomy on his organic shop in the centre of Calicut, where visitors can linger over a cup of monsoon coffee.