OCA reports surge in farmers committed to organic cotton

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2023-02-23 13:45:40 – Netherlands

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), a multi-stakeholder organization devoted to organic cotton, announced the release of its annual Farm Programme Impact Report, which marks the beginning of a new wave of Indian farmers making the switch to organic cotton. Almost 74,000 farmers participated in the OCA Farm Program during the 2021–2022 season, a threefold increase over the prior year.

The OCA attributes this increase to the substantial increase from 4,000 to 22,500 in the number of in-conversion farmers pursuing fully certified organic cotton status as compared to the prior season. More and more cotton farmers are beginning the three-year "in-conversion" process toward organic farming due to the high demand for organically certified cotton, cheaper input prices, and robust support systems.

The sudden surge in organic cotton farmer commitments is evidence of the value of strong farmer business cases, training, and capacity building. Farmers who sold their cotton through OCA's Farm Programme made a larger net profit from their cotton during the 2021–22 season than their regional conventional peers, a 6 percent advantage. In addition to the high market price for organic cotton, participating OCA farmers received almost 4 million Euros for the purchased seed cotton.

OCA has effectively closed the pay gap between conventional and organic farmers for the sixth year in a row as part of its mission to protect the livelihoods of organic and in-conversion farmers. Building capacity and ensuring that becoming organic pays off are crucial for encouraging more conventional farmers to start down the path of going organic. This may be done by strengthening the farmers' business case in the organic cotton sector.

Ruud Schute, Programme Director at OCA said that they sincerely take the learnings and the input from their Farm Program farmers to heart as they tackle some of this sector's systemic difficulties. Their objective to create effectively and improvements are shown by the growth of their program to include assistance for in-conversion farmers, the development of Pakistan's potential, and ensuring that farmers have access to the necessary tools, training, and support. Accelerating environmental protections, supply chain transformation, and advantages for the farming community.

Danique Lodewijks, senior project specialist, Materials & Innovation, Bestseller, said that for BESTSELLER, the sourcing of their raw materials is of tremendous importance, to provide transparency and know the farmers who grow their cotton. Since OCA is committed to organic cotton in a reliable, data-driven manner with hands on the ground locally through its implementation partners, it is vital that we work together. With long-term commitments and uptake agreements, this direct-to-farm model also assures the business case for the farmers, both financially and practically.

Amit Shah, CEO and founding partner of Spectrum Cottfibers LLP, said that the journey with OCA has been illuminating and satisfying for the farmers and the program partners. It is the first industry-driven platform that has been able to unify all the participants in the supply transition behind a single "Farm Commitment Agreement" format that impartially considers all associated costs and offers sufficient assurances to all parties. The new OCA curriculum and toolset have also been a huge success for Project Partners and Farmers affiliated with OCA, even as it is still being implemented across the nation. 

The Impact Report emphasizes the significance of investment by OCA's Contributors and the sector at large in addition to the well-established Farm Programme, which is now in its sixth year. By adding new companies, vendors, and farming partners, creating and disseminating the first Training Curriculum for the Organic Cotton industry, and pursuing funding for capacity-building and training programs, the organization has made sure the momentum doesn't stop. OCA received crucial advice to launch its activities in Pakistan during the 2022–2023 season by expanding the Farm Programme there with a pilot during the previous season.

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