The colour brown embodies this earth on which thrive all plant and animal life, great and small. It now receives another meaning as 'Kandu'.
-evoking images of naturally coloured brown cotton grown by a small group of farmers in Karnataka, South India;
-aspiring to stand for a ‘land to loom’ initiative that attempts to bring socially, economically and ecologically empathetic production processes of the fibre;
-with 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 livelihoods of cotton farmers have worsened. Cotton cultivation continues to be plagued by high cost of production, less-than-promised harvests, combined with lack of access to quality seeds, climate fluctuations, unreliable markets; and has thus 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. 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 our marketing arm and brand name KANDU ['brown' in Kannada, the local language].
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 diversity based agrarian practices and hand crafted textile making 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 and weavers prepare to join us in this alternative cotton journey, and we eagerly wait for you to receive Kandu.