2020 brought great uncertainty to the fashion and textile sectors, with disruption on a global level due to the coronavirus pandemic. Acting quickly to prioritise health and safety, we are proud that with the support of our Contributors, we made the necessary adaptions to deliver on our commitment to provide a secure market for organic cotton farmers.

Working collaboratively and with a focused dedication, we are proud to say that we secured higher net profits for the organic farmers in our Farm Programme, compared to their conventional peers in the same region, for the third consecutive year. Premiums of over 1 million euros were paid out to farmers directly, on top of market price, clearly illustrating to them that there is a business case for organic cotton farming. One of the major successes of our Farm Programme is that up to 95% of the lint produced was procured by participating brands and retailers.

Commenting on the Farm Programme, Rajendra, a farmer from Rajasthan, India said:

There is no going back to conventional methods for me, not now that I know how much harm it was causing to our health and the quality of the soil. If the soil loses its fertility, we will lose our sole source of income. Being associated with this project has given me the confidence to move forward, as I know that the team will always provide me with the support and technical know-how I need.

Another great result from last year was in our Seed Programme, that saw the creation of OCA’s Non-GM Cottonseed Production Guidelines. The Guidelines were made available to all seed producers who want to prevent GMO presence in their seed lots and enable the seed producers across the globe, to improve the integrity of the entire organic cotton value chain.

Launched in 2020 by our partners, a proficiency test to bring clarity to the laboratories that can perform GMO-testing against the international ISO reference protocol was another innovation milestone. OCA’s contribution to this GMO testing protocol will support efforts to ensure integrity in the Organic Cotton sector, as the protocol is currently being converted into an international standard.

Overall, the challenging circumstances in 2020 brought on by COVID-19 highlighted further the importance of collaboration required by the entire organic cotton supply chain to protect farmer livelihoods.

Reflecting on 2020, Keith Tyrell, Chair, OCA Board of Trustees said:

Farmers will likely face challenges for many months to come but we have proven that we are agile and can adapt to new ways of working to safeguard their livelihoods and deliver against our mission, even under difficult circumstances.

As we continue to see increased demand for Organic Cotton globally, the continued growth and investment in our farm-centric programmes ensure that every participant benefits, whilst creating sustainable conditions for the sector to thrive.

Access the full Annual Report here.