The Pre-Organic Cotton Program
An initiative to support the transition to organic cotton farming
What is POC (Pre Organic Cotton)?
The POC (Pre Organic Cotton) program is an initiative of two Japanese companies: kurkku and Itochu. The program supports farmer’s transition from conventional to organic cotton and strives to grow the organic cotton market by supporting successful organic cotton businesses across the supply chain.
Despite tangible financial and health benefits, many farmers have not been able to switch to organic farming. POC addresses key challenges to get rid of critical barriers and helps make the transition.
- We provide all the resources necessary for farmers to make the transition including organic farming training, access to non-GMO seeds, and certification support
- We make a commitment to purchase POC farmer’s harvest before seeding during the 2-3 years transition period and match them with demand from global brands and retailers
- Our research suggests that POC farmers are often better off financially as production cost and risk of becoming deeply indebted decreases
In 2014, Hidemi Yoshida, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Social Governance of Hosei University, conducted interviews with 162 households in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Her research showed that POC farmer’s cost reduction effect is large enough to offset the yield decrease that happens after making the transition to organic and that there is no big difference between the net income of POC farmers and conventional cotton farmers. She therefore notes that it makes little sense from a financial point of view for farmers to purchase expensive seeds and fertilizers.
“Considering farmer’s financial risks associated with weather uncertainty and market volatility, it is a great benefit that POC farmers are able to minimize production cost and risks associated with high costs, while maintaining the same level of net revenue." Hidemi Yoshida, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Governance, Hosei University
What are the benefits for buyers?
By addressing key challenges in the organic cotton sector today, such as supply chain complexity and lack of integrity, the POC program supports the long term success of our partner buyer’s organic cotton businesses.
- We have a physical traceability system for all our cotton products, from seed to final garment, to ensure that our products are 100% organic without any interference from conventional cotton
- On behalf of buyers we coordinate with upstream players of the supply chain to strategically plan and produce organic cotton that meets long-term sourcing needs
- Itochu, as one of the largest trading companies in Japan, provides best in class supply chain and production management solutions with local offices around the globe
Impact and recognitions
Since the program started in 2008, the POC program has supported thousands of ‘‘in-transition’’ farmers. More than 50 brands and retailers have now introduced POC (or organic cotton that has completed the POC program). This number is growing and, in order to further scale up the initiative, kurkku and Itochu are expanding the program beyond Asia to Europe and the US.
In 2012 the POC Program joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA). BCtA, a global initiative hosted at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), promotes businesses aimed at achieving both commercial success and sustainable development.
Japan’s Nikkei Research ranked Itochu Corporation as No 1 among over 500 companies for its contribution to society in its annual NICES ranking announced in 2014. The Nikkei newspaper recognized Itochu for the POC program. NICES is a comprehensive ranking that evaluates Japanese companies across five areas, one of them being society, which is based on contribution to job creation and environmental protection.
In 2015 the POC program was selected for SUSTANIA 100. SUSTAINIA100 is an annual guide to 100 innovative sustainability solutions from around the world. The guide identifies readily available projects, initiatives and technologies at the forefront of sustainable innovation.
Our premium offerings
“everloom” is our premium fabric brand crafted by some of the best Japanese artisans for our luxury brand partners. “everloom” is made of a mix of Pre Organic Cotton (cotton-in-transition) and certified organic cotton that has completed the POC program.
“We are passionate about fashion that makes everyone happy and committed to growing the program in the long-term. In order to make a sustainable impact, we typically work with our partner buyers for at least 3 years, which is the number of years required for a conventional cotton farmer to make the transition to organic." Keisuke Era, Founder of the POC program, Director of kurkku
Nobuyasu Nakamura, Itochu Corporation, Textile Material Section, Textile Company
Address: 2-5-1, Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8077, Japan
Michiko Komatsu, kurkku
Address: 1-28-9 Kurkku office Room3, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053 Japan