Textile Exchange (formerly Organic Exchange) started life in 2002. The Farm Development Program (FDP) now the Farm Engagement Program commenced in 2006 with the generous funding and support of strategic partners ICCO (the Dutch development organisation).
The goals of the FDP were to build a network of organic cotton farmers globally; supporting the growth of organic cotton production and facilitating the markets. Over the past 4-5 years Textile Exchange has worked hard to improve not only the production and markets for organic cotton but to raise the profile of the farmers behind the production. Unlike the commodity markets of conventional cotton, organic offers a fully traceable value chain right back to the growers. This allows the organic cotton industry to maintain the ‘human face’ vital for the integrity of the organic labelling but just as important for tracking the economic and social development of the rural communities that grow it.
The Farm Engagement Program continues to reach out to producer groups with tools and ‘platforms’ for improving business. In addition, as a result of improved standing within the textile sector and a well-established reputation in regions of organic cotton growing, Textile Exchange is in an excellent position to influence and shape the future. Our early investigations into robust business models, fair prices, business diversification and sustainable production mean we can feed this back into the growing community but possibly even more importantly advise our member brands and retailers about responsible business practices.
The next five years will see Textile Exchange move even further into supporting the integrity of organic and the economic development of its member producer groups. We will be working closely with like-minded organisations to extend our reach and impact.
Follow our timeline to track the history of Textile Exchange’s farm program...
2005: Farm Development Programme started focusing on building the business case, equipping organic cotton producers with the tools and networks essential to sustainable growth and exploring market linkages. Approximately 20 producer groups worldwide. Organic cotton representing 0.1% of global production.
2006: Seeds of Change published – pioneer review of organic cotton production alongside the first Farm and Fibre report.
2007: Self Assessment sustainability scorecard trial methodology (using KPIs) developed and pilot data collection started.
2008: Self Assessment sustainability program and the Farmers Toolkit launched
2009: Baseline analysis of crops grown as part of organic cotton farm system, Making Informed Choices published
2010: Organic Exchange changed its name to Textile Exchange and the Farm Development Programme changed to the Farm Engagement Team in recognition of a shift in strategic direction. Launch of Engage, monthly newsletter, in July. Now over 200 producer groups worldwide. Organic cotton representing over 1.0% of global production.
Our Priorities for 2011 and beyond
Further focus on supporting the integrity of organic, seed security, business development, consumer awareness and promoting responsible/sustainable value chains. (Launch of Cotton Briefings in January. Release of our Good Business Guide will be mid-2011 and an Organic Cotton Classifications Guide).