Growing Season: 2011-12
Countries: Brazil, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru
General Staple Lengths: Short, Medium, Long, Extra Long & Colored
No. of Producer Groups: 15 (inc. 2 In-Conversion)
No. of Farmers: 1,252
No. of Women Farmers: 233
Organic Cotton Production Area: 1,644 ha
Seed Cotton Production: 2,442 mt
Fiber (lint) Production: 920 mt
Bales (US) of Cotton Lint: 4,223
Organic cotton production in Latin America began in Peru in the 1980’s and has since grown to include: Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru. In this region, as in Africa and India, farmers are keenly concerned with ensuring their food security. Small farmers are particularly vulnerable to low prices and the global trading environment for both conventional and organic cotton. As with Africa, adequate financing is a key constraint to more farmers joining the organic cotton sector, as is the lack of a ready market for rotation crops.
“Otro Mercado del Sur” is currently the only company that has a program of organic cotton. The production takes place in the “El Chaco” region and its cotton does not currently possess organic certification, while in transition, but with certification for fair trade.
Most organic cotton projects in Brazil are located in the northeast. In Brazil most projects are based on initiatives by NGOs, however, it is the only country where the state has a stake in the development chain. Currently only a small amount of organic cotton is produced but this is expected to increase in coming years as the land currently in transition gains certification.
Colombia is a country with a cotton tradition; currently conventional cotton seed is mostly transgenic (grown from genetically modified seeds). In September 2010 a test trial was started to assess the feasibility of organic cotton production in Colombia.
The only organic cotton project in Nicaragua is driven by Coproexnic. The Coproexnic project, despite being small, is interesting from the point of view of integration in the development of a production chain, where it has achieved - in very small scale - a production system of cotton, the implementation of a small spinning factory (Genesis) and a cooperative of garment manufacturing (Commanuvi).
Paraguay’s economy revolves around agriculture and it has got the second largest organic cotton acreage in Latin America. There are currently only a few companies producing organic cotton: Aratex, Alter Vida and Prorganica. Production has decreased in the last year due to the effect of international market trends.
Peru is the country with the largest organic cotton acreage in Latin America. Organic cotton in Peru is very different from the other countries in the region as it is available in more varieties (such as the Pima and Tanguis ELS varieties). In Peru’s three distinct ecological areas, alternative projects have developed. On the north coast (Lambayeque) the “Del Cerro” variety is used, in the central coast mainly the Tangüis variety is used, and the northern jungle (San Martin) planting cotton with short fiber (áspero) and brown 'colored' cotton.