The colour brown embodies the earth on which thrives all plant and animal life, great and small.
It now receives another meaning as 'Kandu'
one that evokes images of naturally coloured brown cotton that is being grown by a determined lone farmer for almost 2 decades now;
one that aspires to stand for a ‘land to loom’ initiative that attempts to bring socially, economically and ecologically empathetic production processes of the fibre;
one that dreams of building sustainable rural livelihoods across the handloom value chain, with small landholding farmers, including women;
one that hopes to create a discerning generation of enablers.
Even as India is emerging as the largest producer and exporter of cotton globally, the condition of cotton farmers has deteriorated. Cotton cultivation is plagued by high cost of production, less-than-promised harvests, combined with the lack of access to quality seeds, climate fluctuations, unreliable markets; and has trapped farmers into debt cycles. The highest number of farmer suicides in the country are that of cotton farmers.
Our story starts, when a few years ago, we met a farmer - in marked contrast to the norm - growing a medium staple, wholly rain fed, pest & drought resistant variety of naturally coloured brown cotton in a village in North Karnataka. The potential that this holds, as it turns out, is immense.
Ideally suited for hand spinning, this yarn held a glimmer of hope. After much groundwork, we registered UDAANTA (‘for example’ in Kannada) as a Public Trust in 2018.
Our attempt to revive a cultivation unit focused on ecological sustainability, social justice, and economic stability, found its voice in KANDU.
KANDU is not just the marketing arm of UDAANTA but is also its brand. The first attempt of its kind in Karnataka, the fabric that comes to you, has passed through several parts of the state and carries with it the hopes and aspirations for a resurgent rural economy based on indigenous agrarian and craft traditions.
The first generation of women weavers at Melkote’s Janapada Seva Trust were also the first to weave with the brown cotton yarn in the warp and weft.
As we write this, new farmers, spinners, weavers prepare to join us in this alternative cotton journey, and we eagerly wait for you to receive Kandu