The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) Reports On A Surge In Farmers Committed To Organic Cotton

AMSTERDAM — February 20, 2023 — The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), the multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to organic cotton, today announced the publication of its annual Farm Programme Impact Report which heralds a new wave of farmers committing to organic cotton in India. OCA’s Farm Programme reports it has tripled farmer numbers compared to the previous year, with over 74,000 farmers participating during the 2021-2022 season.

Strengthening the farmer business case

OCA associates this surge to the sharp rise in the number of in-conversion farmers working towards fully certified organic cotton status, from 4,000 to 22,500 compared to the previous season. High demand for organic certified cotton, lower input costs combined with strong support systems in place are encouraging more and more cotton farmers to start on the path towards organic, a three-year journey known as “in-conversion.”

The wave of cotton farmers committing to organic proves the effectiveness of a robust farmer business case, training, and capacity building. During the 2021-22 season farmers who sold their cotton through OCA’s Farm Programme achieved a higher net income from their cotton than their local conventional peers, a 6 percent difference. On top of a high market price for organic cotton, over 4 million Euros was paid out to participating OCA farmers for their seed cotton procured.

It is the sixth year in a row when OCA, committed to securing organic and in-conversion farmer livelihoods, has successfully bridged the gap between conventional and organic farmers’ earnings. Strengthening the farmers’ business case in the organic cotton sector is paramount to building capacity and ensuring that it does pay to go organic, making it easier for more conventional farmers to take the first steps towards it.

Ruud Schute, Programme Director at OCA said: “We truly take the learnings and the feedback from our Farm Programme farmers to heart as we tackle some of this sector’s systemic challenges. The expansion of our program to include support for in-conversions farmers, developing the potential of Pakistan, and making sure farmers have the tools, training and support required, all  highlight our mission to drive impact and improvements. Accelerating benefits for the farming community, safeguarding their environment, and transforming the entire supply chain.”

“I do not want to go back to the conventional method of farming. Most of my investment was used for fertilizers and pesticides and in turn this negatively affected the soil health of my agricultural land. I have decided to extend organic farming now to all crops since it improves soil health gradually. Maintaining a rich living soil is my priority,” said Dipak, an OCA farmer from Kutki village in Wardha district of Maharashtra who harvested 6,700 kilograms of organic cotton from his farm during the 2021-22 season.

Danique Lodewijks, senior project specialist, Materials & Innovation, Bestseller, commented: “For BESTSELLER, the sourcing of our raw materials is of great importance, to create transparency and know the farmers who grow our cotton. Therefore, it is crucial we partner with OCA, an organization dedicated to organic cotton in a trustworthy, data-driven way with feet on the ground locally through their implementation partners. This direct-to-farm approach also secures the business case for the farmers, both financially and practically, with long-term commitments and uptake agreements.”

Amit Shah, CEO and founding partner, Spectrum Cottfibers LLP, added: “The journey with OCA has been both enlightening and fulfilling for the farmers and the program partners. Its the only industry driven platform that has managed to get all the players in the supply change on a single format of the ‘Farm Commitment Agreement’ that in a neutral manner looks at all costs involved and provides adequate assurances to all concerned. Additionally, Project Partners and Farmers associated with OCA have truly benefited from the new OCA curriculum and toolkit even as it continues to be rolled out across the country. My congratulations to the team at OCA, the retailers, civil society members and supply chain partners that have made this a success along with the entire farming community.”

Continuing the momentum

Alongside the established Farm Programme, now in its sixth year, the Impact Report highlights the importance of investment of OCA’s Contributors and the sector at large. The organisation has ensured the momentum continues by bringing new brands, suppliers, and farming partners onboard, developing and distributing the first Training Curriculum for the Organic Cotton sector and pursuing funding to build capacity and training projects. Expanding the Farm Programme into Pakistan with a pilot during the past season provided OCA with important guidance to kick-start its operations in the country which launched during the 2022-23 season.

Posted: February 20, 2023

Source: The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA)