Serendimenthe – Operations Halted in January 2015
Our Serendimenthe project in Northern India and its predecessor produced organic and fair trade mint oils for Dr. Bronner’s products from 2007 to 2014. During that time the project converted over 500 smallholders to organic practices and helped local community development through a range of community-led fair trade projects.
Though we are proud of what that project accomplished during that time, in late 2014 we discovered that the project faced insurmountable management challenges and that we could no longer trust the local leadership to maintain the project’s integrity. After much discussion about the best course of action, we decided to conclude our partnership there and begin looking for alternate sources of fair trade organic mint oils.
Gains that were made for the community while the project was in operation will continue to have an impact for years to come. These include the development, expansion and maintenance of a composting operation, the organization of “medical camps” with doctors and nurses who service villages without ready access to medical care, the installation of drinking water pumps and photovoltaic streetlights, and the supply of photovoltaic home sets that remediate frequent power outages or lack of power grid access.
Fair trade projects are not immune to problems, and Serendimenthe proved to be one of the most challenging projects we’ve worked on to date – ultimately one that we felt should not continue.
Yet, experience is an excellent teacher, and we are already beginning to develop a new mint oil project with some of our former project staff, one that can serve as yet another model for how fair trade & organic agriculture is done.