As the fashion industry is increasingly sourcing more sustainable cotton, worldwide organic cotton production systems should be capable of meeting future demand. In India however, contributing to around two-thirds of global production, farmers are moving away from producing organic cotton.
On average, low yields due to unavailability of high quality organic inputs, no compensation for growing organic because of limited transparency and integrity issues throughout the chain, coupled with high costs of transitioning to organic, lead to low net incomes for organic cotton farmers. Spinning this around and making the organic cotton business case for farmers attractive again requires collective action focused on the following interlinked key priority areas: 1) leverage buying practices to the benefit of the farmer; 2) invest in improving access to and quality of organic inputs, particularly seed, and 3) ensure integrity of organic cotton as well as transparency throughout the supply chain.
(Header picture © Dinesh Khanna for C&A Foundation)