A group of frontrunners joined forces in the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) to tackle the challenges the organic cotton sector is facing. C&A, H&M, Inditex, EILEEN FISHER, Kering, Textile Exchange, Cotton Connect and the C&A Foundation committed to creating a prosperous organic cotton sector which benefits everyone in the value chain – from farmer to consumer. In the last month three other organizations joined OCA to take part in a synergistic collaboration that has the potential to structurally change the sector.
Recently, Tchibo decided to join OCA as a founding partner. The company is one of Germany’s largest retail chains and dedicated to becoming a 100% sustainable business. The sustainable business policies have earned the family business, which was founded in Hamburg in 1949, multiple awards including the award for Corporate Ethics and the Environmental Logistics Award in 2012, and the Federal Government’s CSR Award in 2013. They focus on areas where a difference can be made through direct influence, and one of these areas is the sourcing of cotton.
Also, as of last month Keith Tyrell (director PAN UK) and Shreyaskar Chaudhary (Managing Director & CEO Pratibha Syntex Ltd) are part of the OCA board. The Pesticide Action Network UK focuses on tackling the problems caused by pesticides and promoting safe and sustainable alternatives. Pratibha Syntex Ltd is a vertically integrated company that engages in fibre production, spinning, knitting, and apparel manufacturing activities in India.
PAN UK brings specific expertise on the farm level as it has been involved in organic cotton for over two decades and its organic cotton programme currently supports 5,000 smallholder farmers in East and West Africa. As conventional cotton relies on heavy pesticide use its production has serious implications for farmer health and the environment. Also, the high costs of synthetic pesticides makes cotton production of marginal profitability for many growers. PAN UK sees organic cotton as a solution to many of these problems, but for that sector challenges such as lack of good quality seed need to be addressed collectively.
Pratibha Syntex Ltd has years of experience with organic cotton farming and in every step of the supply chain thereafter. In 1999 the organic farming project Vasudha was set up that currently counts on 33,000 farmers that carry out sustainable farming over 130,000 acres. The project has been instrumental in establishing the company as India’s first and largest organic cotton vertically integrated textile company. Pratibha Syntex Ltd believes that for long term viability of the organic cotton sector there is a need for the right strategy, collaboration and effective execution.
The new OCA partners agree on one thing: sector-wide collaboration is the key instrument to drive the needed transformation. All of the key players – growers, supply chain actors, civil society, and brands – together can roll out the structural and holistic solutions that help the sector to expand. Now that we can count on a value chain player and an NGO on the OCA board we are becoming more inclusive, representing a larger part of the sector. Also, with Tchibo on board OCA unites all major organic cotton buyers from the apparel industry. OCA has the muscle to convene stakeholders, and unlock the knowledge, resources and implementing power to really change the rules of the game.