Helping farmers in India convert to organic cotton production
Cotton occupies a mere five percent of all farmland in India, yet accounts for more than half of the country's pesticide use. Pesticides frequently used in conventional cotton farming add a financial burden for farmers and cause serious health concerns including skin and respiratory diseases. India accounts for 80 percent of the world's organic cotton production. Despite the tangible financial and health benefits of producing organic cotton, the conversion process remains financially unfeasible for most farmers. Certification takes three years during which time farmers experience a 20-30 percent decrease in crop yields. In addition to lost revenue, the certification process entails additional fees which are prohibitive for many farmers.
Through its commitment to the BCtA, ITOCHU, a general trading company with 114 offices in 65 countries will work with Indian companies to identify farmers who are interested in converting to organic cotton farming. ITOCHU will then supply farmers with the necessary training and organic cotton seeds. The company also provides a guarantee to purchase the pre-organic cotton at a higher price than what farmers would have gotten for uncertified cotton. ITOCHU further assists farmers by funding their certification fees and aiding them with administrative support during the process.
As part of the Pre Organic Cotton Programme (POC), kurkku a sustainable lifestyle company links the cotton farmers with environmentally friendly Japanese consumers by promoting and selling pre-organic cotton for use in apparel. Through innovative partnerships such as the POC Program, kurkku promotes consumer preferences which help build an environmentally friendly and healthy future.
ITOCHU and kurkku, have pledged to scale up their POC Programme, thereby enabling 9,500 families in India to transition to organic cotton production by 2015. The initiative will rid 30,000 acres of land from harmful agrichemicals while improving the farmers health and increasing their incomes by up to 30 percent.