Mumbai 2015

The 2015 Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) was held in Mumbai, India, on Thursday 8th October, following the annual Textile Sustainability Conference. 

Almost 200 producers, manufacturers, brands, retailers, and support organizations came together in Mumbai to share news and views on organic cotton. The sheer size of the gathering and the energy on the day left no doubt in our minds that the desire to grow a robust and resilient organic cotton market is greater than ever. 

Summary Animation

[Play OCRT Summary Animation - Flash Required]

[Play OCRT Summary Audio Only]



Summary Report




 [OCRT 2015 Summary Report]

[OCRT 2015 Graphic Recording] [Full OCRT 2015 Slide Deck] [OCRT 2015 Program]







Our panel of experts and investors excited us with news of recent investments in organic cotton from India to Pakistan to China. Alongside new investors were pioneers in organic from Helvetas and bioRe, who continue to demonstrate that innovation goes hand-in-hand with bold and visionary “early adoption” of ideas. 






Panelists Top Recommendations:

  • PROVIDE ENABLERS such as Farmer Field Schools, demonstration plots, input access and certification, and Women's Open Schools.
  • STRENGTHEN WHOLE COMMUNITIES to facilitate access to extension services, technology, farming inputs and markets.
  • INCUDE THE INTRANSITION YEARS in investment programs to support farmers during the transition to organic.
  • GO BEYOND THE COMMODITY and approach the farm as an agro-ecological system producing food and fiber, conserving natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • BUILD PARTNERSHIPS to include government incentives and market mechanisms to achieve product delivery.
  • FARMER FIRST Models rooted in transparency, trust, and commitment.   




Tackling the Roots of Integrity Issues - Collective Vision:

  • COMMON UNDERSTANDING – Important to understand what integrity means to everybody else.
  • TRUST – To achieve integrity a culture of trust needs to be nurtured.
  • COMMUNICATION – Open communication is vital to address underlying causes of deviations from integrity.
  • TRAINING – Supply chain actors need to be equipped with the tools for integrating and managing integrity.
  • FINANCING – Pressure to cut corners can lead to integrity being compromised – it must be factored into a true cost business model.

Examining the Business Case for Producers - Collective Vision:
  • COMMITMENT - Long-term commitments from brands and retailers.
  • PRICING - Explore new pricing models such as de-coupling prices from the commodity market.
  • QUALITY - Work together to ensure fiber performance (quality, characteristics etc.) matches commercial and technical requirements.
  • FINANCING - Work to coordinate product and financial flows to reduce producer vulnerability and leverage access to affordable financing.



Market Movements and Opportunities - Collective Vision:

  • EFFICIENCIES – Employ appropriate technology to increase efficiencies and remove waste.
  • PRICING – Go deep into supply networks to resolve pricing issues.
  • EDUCATION – Curriculums that influence and encourage responsible and ethical behavior (citizenship).
  • INTEGRITY – Every actor in the supply chain must take responsibility.





The New SDGs: What They Mean for Cotton Communities - Collective Vision:

  • COLLECTIVE ACTION - We need to act! It must be precise and inclusive – governments and businesses talking to each other.
  • TRADE not aid!
  • METRICS THAT MATTER – Incentivize companies to set their own KPIs to deliver SDGs.
  • BUILD A PLATFORM  - Find the right forum such as the World Economic Forum to bring governments and businesses together to find solutions (incentives, policies) to work together to deliver SDGs.





Lunchtime’s “Eat & Greet” provided an extensive menu of topics (15 in all). “Diners” were encouraged to graze lightly or dig in heartily where appetite dictated!  

[Jen Soth, HELVETAS - Audio Summary] 
Click here to listen to what Jens Soth, Helvetas, has to say!

“We had a very interesting discussion…the biggest issues were around defining exactly what a living wage is in different regions, and being able to ensure long term sustainability in it being paid to garment workers.”

-  Maeve Wadge, Sourcing Sustainably

“We need a cohesive campaign from TE brands with infographics, social media engagement and a toolkit so we are all sending the same messaging, maybe even a global twitter party and a Facebook group to share our global efforts”  

-  Marci Zaroff, Under The Canopy/ Portico Brands 

"We talked about the complementarity of organic and Fairtrade - people were very frank in sharing that, yes, there are some issues they are struggling with in organic, but Fairtrade makes a good complement to that... We are looking forward to working closely with organic to move this forward as the best preferred sustainable solution. " 

-  ‚ÄčAnup Kr Singh, Fairtrade International 



The OCRT currently consists of three Task Forces that focus on the key challenges to sector stability and sustainable growth. The OCRT in-person meeting provides the opportunity for priorities to be shared, a co-created strategy to be developed, and areas to focus funding - so that action can be taken.


Seed & Soils Action Points:

  • Promote the work of the Organic & Fair Cotton Secretariat (OFCS) in India.
  • Advocate for Seed Conservation Parks – partnerships between Breeding Institutes, Government, and the private sector including farmers.
  • Find partners and raise funds for seed breeding programs that prioritize open-pollinated varieties with attributes for pest resistance and that thrive in “low-input” e.g. organic conditions.
  • Take learnings from India’s experiences and new ways of bringing seed stakeholders together and share case studies with stakeholders in other countries who are coming up against similar issues..
  • Develop a protocol or best practice for GMO testing.


Consumer Engagement Action Points:

  • Translate the new "" microsite into German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and French.
  • Develop Media “Infosheet” and combine with a Marketing Toolkit to be released via social media.
  • Produce educational tools such as PPTs for delivering training and presentations.
  • Create additional video links such as The True Cost and Behind The Label.
  • Connect companies to the microsite and create two-way link to site.
  • Use the microsite to encourage “co-creation” between stakeholders.



Business Models Action Points:

  •  Prepare case studies of the new business models currently under development, being piloted or implemented.
  • Call for business leadership – especially at the C-suite level.
  • Continue to work on supply chain linkages, towards full integration, for maximizing shared value and rewards, responsibility, and risk sharing.
  • Create an environment (the OCRT does this!) to mobilize coalitions, pre-competitive collective action. “GO FURTHER TOGETHER!”





“Innovations” for the Innovation Lab going forward:

  • Invite feedback from participants to feed into plans for 2016.
  • Appoint an Innovation Lab Patron.
  • Establish first TE “Alumni of Innovators” - TE to set up the Alumni network and platform for sharing ideas.
  • At the 2016 OCRT have Alumni members share updates and progress on their innovations (either live or via video).
  • Video record the event and sharing on “OCRT Innovation Lab Alumni TV”.





[Back to Organic Cotton Round Table]