Pakistan’s First Certified Organic Cotton Bale – A Major Breakthrough In Pakistan’s Cotton Sector

RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan — February 6, 2019 — WWF-Pakistan and Directorate of Agriculture Extension, Baluchistan celebrated the certification of Pakistan’s first organic cotton bale.  This significant milestone to promote organic cotton production in Pakistan was celebrated through an event organized at AA Cotton Ginning Factory, Sadiqabad. Government departments, cotton supply chain actors and WWF-Pakistan attended the event.

Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter of raw cotton. Cotton and cotton products contribute about 10 per cent to Gross Domestic Product and 55 per cent to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Overall, between 30 and 40 per cent of cotton is consumed domestically as final products. The remainder is exported as raw cotton, yarn, cloth, and garments.

Organic cotton is grown without using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides and is cultivated on land that is detoxified from residues of chemical fertilizers and pesticides over a period of at least three years. Further, the seeds used to grow organic cotton are not genetically modified and are kept clean from chemical impurities during processing and packaging. If the cotton crop produced adheres to the standards of organic cotton farming in its initial two years it is called in conversion cotton. By the third year, the yield is certified as organic cotton.

With funding support of C&A Foundation, WWF Pakistan has been working together with Baluchistan’s Directorate of Agriculture Extension since 2015 on an initiative to promote organic cotton cultivation amongst small and marginal tribal farmers.  Through the partnership, around 4000 smallholder farmers have been trained and now the first farmers are seeing the fruits of their labour.

To celebrate the milestone of the first bale of certified organic cotton, participants from government departments, WWF-Pakistan and cotton supply chain actors attended the event. Guests of honour included Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan; Khaleeq Nazar Kiyani, Secretary Agriculture and Cooperatives, Baluchistan; and Eng. Zamrak Khan, Minister Agriculture, Baluchistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Hamad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said, “Together we have made a major breakthrough in cotton sector of Pakistan that will benefit stakeholders, and overall economy of Pakistan. We are proud of the contribution of the farmers in Baluchistan.”

In his remarks, Khaleeq Nazar Kiyani, Secretary Agriculture Baluchistan commended the efforts of WWF-Pakistan and Agriculture Extension team and said that the certification is, no doubt, “a step towards a more sustainable Pakistan”. He added that production of organic cotton will propel the cotton sector into a new direction. Addtionally, Eng. Zamrak Khan, Minster Agriculture Baluchistan also showed his commitment to promote organic agriculture throughout Baluchistan and to develop organic agriculture policy at provincial level.

“Four years ago, at the invitation of C&A Foundation, WWF-Pakistan accepted the challenge to launch an organic cotton programme in Baluchistan. Today, we are proud of the achievement of this joint initiative between WWF-Pakistan, the Directorate of Agriculture Extension of Baluchistan, and C&A Foundation. This is a landmark moment for the cotton sector in the country and we applaud the farmers in making this happen. While there is still more to be done in addressing the challenges related to non-GMO seeds and certification infrastructure, we believe that this is a promising start to the scale up of organic cotton in Pakistan,” said Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials for C&A Foundation.

After the inauguration of organic cotton bale, a consultative workshop was conducted in which representatives from ginners, spinners, textiles, brokers and brands participated and presented with their concerning inputs regarding development of a tenable supply chain of organic cotton in Pakistan.

In their closing remarks, all participants made a commitment to embrace challenges and moving ahead with meaningful strategy leading to a flourishing future of organic cotton in Pakistan.

Posted February 8, 2019

Source: WWF-Pakistan