Special section: Performing development roles: theorizing agriculture as performance edited by Andrew Flachs

Fempreneurs or organic tea farmers? Entrepreneurialism, resilience and alternative agriculture in Darjeeling, India

Author: Debarati Sen (Kennesaw State University)

  • Fempreneurs or organic tea farmers? Entrepreneurialism, resilience and alternative agriculture in Darjeeling, India

    Special section: Performing development roles: theorizing agriculture as performance edited by Andrew Flachs

    Fempreneurs or organic tea farmers? Entrepreneurialism, resilience and alternative agriculture in Darjeeling, India

    Author:

Abstract

In this article I underscore how women organic tea farmers build economic resilience through dual enactments as "organic farmers" and as "entrepreneurs." In substantiating both, women question the limited optics through which Fair Trade type sustainability ventures measure their work for a tea cooperative, as well poorly recognizing their entrepreneurial work in their households and community. Women are deeply aware of the politics of Fair Trade where their productive and reproductive labor is appropriated through the labor of organics, where women not only produce the organic green leaf tea but also produce narratives of Fair Trade's success in its certification and gender audits. Thus, to understand what sustains the new wave of "sustainable agriculture" in the global South, we must explore the intersections of organic farming practices with emerging discourses and practices of gendered entrepreneurialism in organic farming communities. In Darjeeling, India, women provide the labor necessary to sustain organics that should ideally come from the Indian state or international trading partners. They fill the gap through their labor, time, creativity and risk-taking. I contend that the success of organic farming depends on critical maneuvers that entail economic and cultural entrepreneurialism, and demonstrate forms of resilience expressed through which women farmers identify and navigate the inadequacies of alternative agriculture and related Fair Trade practices.

Keywords: Women organic tea farmers, women entrepreneurs, Fair Trade, rural Darjeeling, risk-taking, resilience

How to Cite:

Sen, D., (2018) “Fempreneurs or organic tea farmers? Entrepreneurialism, resilience and alternative agriculture in Darjeeling, India”, Journal of Political Ecology 25(1), p.732-747. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v25i1.22386

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Published on
03 Jan 2018
Peer Reviewed