Regional Contact Person
India continues to be the world’s largest producer of organic cotton, grown by over 200 producer groups in eight states, but chiefly Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. Cotton is the largest single organic crop, covering almost 45 % of the total area under organic cultivation.
There is a need for better matching of supply and demand, improved organic farming technologies and more remunerative prices for organic fiber, enabling systems to ensure that farmers reap the benefit of such prices, and ensuring that the large numbers of contract farming models have effective and equitable management systems in place.
It is undeniable that organically produced cotton offers a life choice and alternative to thousands of marginal farmers for whom cotton is a very valuable cash crop providing intercropping opportunities leading to food self sufficiency and a less expensive method of production.
Supply chain management Farmers continue to remain at the rough end of a complex supply chain. The huge growth of production needs to be balanced by equity. Progress and sustainable growth hinges on the attitudes and actions of all the players in the value chain, and is inextricably connected to support systems such as government support and favourable policy, transparency, access to finance, and long term partnerships.
Seed availability and seed choice The availability of seeds for organic cotton production continues to be a major challenge, with GM seeds taking centre stage and seed companies in the private sector predominantly producing GM seeds. A number of initiatives to remedy the situation are underway but are currently in the early stages. Farmers also need to move away from hybrids for many reasons, but chiefly because growing varieties and herbacium cotton makes for more viable options from the point of suitability, and seed sovereignty, both big life lines for farmers.
Developing domestic markets The nurturing and growth of a strong domestic market for organic fiber could play a significant role in strengthening producer groups and reducing their dependence on the export markets. India continues to attract a wide variety of goods and services and large segments of the population are increasingly aware and discerning. The time is right for creating strong local markets and engaging local and local/international brands.
Governance With issues of integrity plaguing Indian organic cotton, the Government of India through APEDA, the regulatory body for certification in India, has taken several proactive measures that were implemented in 2010. This includes Tracenet, an online tracking system for all organic production and reduction in group size for ICS (internal control systems) to a maximum of 500 farmers. Stakeholders are confident that the new regulations will deter opportunists in organic cotton and strengthen integrity.
Seed Initiatives The shortage of non GM seeds for organic production is a major concern that will call for considerable effort to resolve through dissemination of information, making the linkages, fostering co operation, engaging the private sector seed producers, and hopefully influencing policy makers to be pro active and thereby steer positive action on a broader, national scale.
Integrity issues around organic cotton produced in India was a concern and Textile Exchange has been at the forefront of the efforts initiated by the 4 member Consortium of ICCO, Solidaridad, IFOAM and Textile Exchange, to identify gaps in the system that compromise integrity, and support resolution of the same while engaging all stakeholders. Formation of a Producers Forum and a Certifiers Forum are some of the efforts of the Consortium.
Policy Getting engaged in policy development of the Government of India and keeping track of policy changes and engaging with them are an important part of the efforts of Farm Engagement work in India.
R&D There are several agricultural universities and Technology and Research institutes focused on cotton. Keeping abreast of the work for the betterment of the industry is a key regional initiative.
Other key initiatives will be directed at developing local markets, keeping abreast of farm related issues such as ICS, inputs production on farm, KPIs, Business Model studies, participation in regional conferences and workshops, and education and awareness building.
2006 Held regional meeting in Bangalore
2007 Held regional meeting in Bangalore
Participated in India organic trade show
2008 Held regional meeting in Aurangabad - over 225 participants and a fashion show showcasing organic clothes
Participated in India organic trade show
Held a joint workshop for organic producers with Helvetas
2009 Represented Industry interests by participating in the organic cotton advisory board for the government of India
2010 Integrity focussed meeting in Nagpur
Represented Industry interests by participating in the government of India’s subcommittee for organic cotton for the formation of the national fibre policy