Sustainable cotton sector continues to grow, says IISD

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2023-01-17 16:10:49 – Canada

According to recent data from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), consumers and businesses worldwide are increasingly preferring cotton produced in compliance with voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs), such as Better Cotton or Cotton manufactured in Africa (CiMa).

Vivek Voora, Senior Associate, IISD, said sustainable cotton is in great demand as customers try to make ethical purchasing decisions and brands use sustainability to differentiate their products in the market.

The new Global Market Report: Cotton Prices and Sustainability from IISD charts how cotton production that complies with VSS has quadrupled on average every 2.5 years since 2008.

Voora added that North America and Europe account for most of the demand. However, there is a rise in awareness in significant developing and emerging countries, which suggests the expansion will persist. Sustainability criteria can assist in addressing the environmental and social effects associated to the production of conventional cotton. Including water scarcity, pesticide runoff contaminating soil and water, forced labor, and unfavorable working conditions."

The new research contains a thorough analysis of how cotton prices and cotton farmers' revenue might be impacted by upholding sustainability standards.

Steffany Bermudez, Policy Analyst, IISD, said that prices and earnings are crucial because many smallholder cotton producers live below the poverty line in developing countries. The epidemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine have now forced these struggling farmers to deal with growing input costs, decreased harvests, and unpredictably fluctuating prices.

According to Bermudez, cultivating VSS-compliant cotton can bring farmers in some places up to 50% higher prices and 20% greater crop earnings than growing conventional cotton.

Bermudez added that the study demonstrates that the better crop quality and cost-effective farming methods linked to VSS compliance are the cause of these higher prices and revenues. However, because they are frequently set below government- and international market-determined rates, the minimum price levels employed by certain VSSs have proven ineffectual. To reflect current market conditions and appropriately reward farmers, standards-setting authorities must implement or revise their minimum pricing.

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