PST and OCA launch new project for organic cotton in India

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2022-05-09 00:44:00 – India

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST) and Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) have launched a new joint project in India called Partnership Initiative Organic Cotton to assist foster transparency and equity throughout the organic cotton supply chain.

The new Organic Cotton in India initiative has signed up ten businesses and organizations to help develop a fair, ecologically sustainable, and commercially viable organic cotton supply chain in India.

The program intends to provide practical advantages to at least 12,500 farmers in India who are transitioning to organic farming.

Brands Fashion, C&A, Esprit, Formesse, GOTS, HAKRO, H&M Group, s.Oliver Group, Tchibo, and Fairtrade are among the brands that have committed to becoming a part of this long-term farmer-focused effort. The effort is now being implemented on-site and will last until 2025. It is primarily funded by the ten firms, but it also receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, where its co-partner, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST), is situated.

The ultimate goal of the PST, which comprises roughly 130 members from corporations, organizations, trade unions, and the German Federal Government, is to create social, environmental, and economic improvements in the ready-made garment sector.

Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), a co-partner and fellow multi-stakeholder organization, will share its established Farm Programme to provide participating farmers with access to reliable non-GM (genetically modified) seeds, capacity building support on organic practices, and long-term procurement commitments as well as better earnings through premiums.

Farms will be trained in organic agronomic principles through OCA's Farm Programme, and another program encouraging good working conditions will be established and distributed to all farmers. The goal is to regenerate hundreds of hectares of farmland using organic approaches, reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, improving long-term soil health, and promoting on-farm biodiversity for future generations.

OCA intends to assist the Partnership Initiative's brand partners by linking them to agricultural initiatives in various Indian areas through local farm organizations or implementing partners. In exchange, the project partners will give a sourcing commitment for both in-conversion cotton and certified organic cotton, as well as farmer premiums (higher than the market price).

According to the OCA, cotton producers who wish to transition from conventional to organic would appreciate this assistance because the in-conversion process can take up to three years and is fraught with problems such as temporary production declines that necessitate further financial assistance.

OCA’s executive director Bart Vollaard said that progressive objectives for organic cotton sourcing are fantastic, but they must be accompanied by practical support to farmers, particularly those moving from conventional to organic agriculture. It's excellent to collaborate with members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles who recognize the need of going above and beyond to realize their organic cotton aspirations and give farmers long-term commitments and higher pricing.

Vollaard added that the program helps to mobilize additional assistance for farmers through the difficult transition to organic techniques, as well as to deepen the effect with a specific focus on good working conditions. This actually helps expedite organic cotton's potential for good effect.

Jürgen Janssen, head of the secretariat of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, said that the new Partnership Initiative has several positive effects; for farmers, who earn more and receive greater security, for textile companies and brands, who can purchase more organic cotton, and last but not least for the environment. It is also an excellent example of successful private-public financing: the enterprises carry more than three-quarters of the expenditures, while the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development funds the remainder through two GIZ initiatives.

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