Why is organic cotton expensive?
Organic cotton refers to cotton which is grown without the use of any synthetic or chemical-based products i.e., defoliants, synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, or plant growth regulators. It not only requires knowledge and skill but also requires careful planning for setting up a whole organic production system that does not harm the biodiversity of that place. Along with keeping in mind the soil quality, farmers have to also take care of replenishing and maintaining soil fertility.
When compared to conventional cotton farming, organic cotton farming doesn’t require the use of expensive synthetic and toxic pesticides or germicides, it also doesn’t use GMO seeds or expensive petroleum-based fertilizers. But still organic cotton is more expensive than conventional ones. This is because natural or non-GMO seeds are used along with other natural materials which are more expensive than the conventional ones. The organically grown crop is much more labor-intensive as cotton balls are picked by hand instead of using machines and other harvest aids. This not only increases the cost of labor but also makes the whole harvesting process a bit slower. Also, the weeds are also removed by hand. In order to convert a normal farming land into an organically certified one, it takes more than three years.
Supply and demand also play a great role, since the yield of organic cotton is much lesser than the conventional ones which add up the cost to the final product. Because of the smaller quality, the process of ginning and cleaning is much higher than the conventional ones. Moreover, due to so many environmental constraints, there are comparatively fewer manufactures of organic cotton than the conventional one globally created a smaller market for organic clothes. Organic cotton manufacturers have to qualify for different certifications in order to manufacture and sell organic cotton and these certifications have very strict trade fair requirements. Even the dyeing and printing of organic cotton uses natural and organic dyes which adds up to the cost of clothing made from organic cotton.