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OCA reports enormous growth in organic cotton farmers

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2022-04-04 03:02:04 – Netherlands

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), a collection of partners whose purpose is to unlock the potential of organic cotton, is seeing a huge increase in the number of farmers who are joining its program, with as many as 80,000 farmers participating in the 2021/22 season. The Farm Program Impact study from the Organic Cotton Association emphasizes the economic benefits of growing organic cotton.

According to a press release from OCA, brands, and retailers who participate in the Farm Program financially support vital services supplied to farmers, such as training in organic methods, supply of seed and bio-inputs, and procurement at a premium price.

When compared to the previous season, OCA's Farm Program experienced a 180% rise in farmer numbers, and these farmers made on average 21% higher net profit per hectare from their cotton than their non-organic counterparts. Organic farmers' lower yields were compensated for by a mix of farmer rewards and lower production costs, resulting in a better economic case for program farmers when compared to conventional farmers.

Many fashion brands are expanding their demand for organic cotton. For example, Danish retailer Bestseller has set a goal of purchasing 30% organic cotton by 2025, while the H&M Group included in-conversion cotton to its sustainable material offering with the goal of assisting farmers during the transition and accelerating capacity building in the organic cotton sector.

The paper includes case studies of farmers who are planting organically and reaping the financial rewards thanks to continued support from OCA's Farm Program. Ritesh Champalal Dhiran, an organic cotton farmer in Maharashtra, India, began planting organic cotton in 2008 and collected almost 5,000 kg of cotton from his 3.6 acre field for €3,315, plus a €294 premium in the previous season.

Bart Vollaard, executive director at OCA, said that organic cotton is critical to more sustainable fashion industry, and demand is growing. More farmers are converting to organic farming, and more global brands and retailers are increasing their organic cotton sourcing and investing in the support that farmers need to grow organically. That's great news for farmers and the environment, but making the conversion to organic cotton is a difficult process. Farmers must be supported during this time, which is one of the key roles that OCA plays. It takes up to 3 years for farmers to convert to organic cotton farming, which is a necessary period to build up soil fertility and re-establish the ecosystem's balance, and farmers must be supported during this time.

The Organic Cotton Association's objective is to create a transparent, responsible, and resilient organic cotton supply chain, and the organization takes a comprehensive approach to strengthen the organic cotton industry. The Organic Consumers Association's 2030 strategy focuses on five critical pillars: farmer resilience and livelihoods, seed availability and diversity, organic farming scalability, robust social and environmental farm-level data, and a collaborative sector approach. Focusing on these areas can help overcome the issues that come with a "business as usual" approach to organic cotton. To empower farmers, align supply with demand, and promote a healthy planet for future generations, OCA brings the industry together right across the supply chain.

Danique Lodewijk, senior project specialist at Bestseller, said that organic cotton is crucial in the development of a more sustainable fashion sector. By collaborating with OCA, they will be able to meet their goal of acquiring 30% organic cotton by 2025. They Are happy to help OCA establish a transparent, responsible, and resilient organic cotton supply chain that also improves farming communities and preserves biodiversity.

Hitesh Sharma, material program manager for cotton at H&M Group, said that as one of the largest buyers of organic cotton, the H&M Group must invest in the organic cotton sector's development. They've been working together as a founding member of OCA to establish a sustainable organic cotton supply and financially support cotton farmers. Every year since our initial farm project with OCA in 2017, they've increased the amounts they source through the OCA Farm Program. The partners and farmers involved in these programs have stayed with them throughout this journey, displaying the level of commitment required from all sides of the organic cotton sector is to succeed.

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