The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) hosted a meeting with key stakeholders from Pakistan on 24 August 2023, marking a moment in the organisation’s journey to expand organic cotton farming practices in South Asia. As a multi-stakeholder platform, OCA convenes the organic growing sector. Pakistan is a unique and relatively new geography for OCA and its stakeholders. The event provided valuable insights into opportunities and barriers faced by the emerging organic sector in Pakistan.
The meeting attracted diverse participants, including representatives from brands, local farm groups, NGOs such as Lok Sanjh, CABI CWA, SAWIE, REEDS and WWF- Pakistan, as well as individuals from integrated vertical units, seed companies, and procurement agencies. A total of 16 organisations, including 4 commercial textile organisations, such as Artistic Fabric, Soorty Enterprises, Interloop, and Artistic Milliners, attended. The event placed a strong emphasis on involving implementation partners and vertically integrated textile setups.
With this event, we aim to increase understanding of how OCA’s programs and methodologies can foster partnerships and interdependencies among stakeholders. It was also an opportunity for the participants to share their challenges and concerns, which will further guide OCA to align its priorities and programmes for Pakistan based on the current ground realities and needs. We also hope to send a clear message that In-conversion and organic cotton should be an essential part of everyone’s preferred fibre roadmap for textile products manufactured in Pakistan. This meeting marks a crucial phase in OCA’s engagement in Pakistan. Based on its two years of experience and partnerships on the ground, OCA aims to strengthen its presence and plan for the future while advancing its mission of creating a more sustainable and transparent cotton supply chain.
The meeting covered topics such as improving the quantity and quality of non-genetically modified seed, availability of certified bio-input, local policy aspects, and stakeholder collaboration. It was inspiring to see the participants’ excitement and motivation to understand OCA’s work and their support in addressing the challenges of organic cotton. It is a good start in the right direction. Asif Mehmood, Senior Programme Manager, OCA
Congratulations to the OCA team for conducting such an event. I believe it will turn to the development of a platform to build synergies and momentum to have a conducive environment for organic farming in Pakistan. Hafiz Muhammad Bakhsh, WWF- Pakistan
Participating in the Organic Cotton Accelerator’s event has illuminated a promising path towards a more resilient ecosystem for organic cotton cultivation in Pakistan. This endeavor not only holds the potential to elevate farmer incomes but also promises to transform the deserving region of Balochistan. We envision the ripple effects of this conference being felt far and wide, catalyzing increased international demand for Pakistani organic cotton. Together, we forge a brighter, sustainable future. Asad Soorty, Director, Soorty Enterprises
The whole point of the conference was to brainstorm and come up with collective action to help improve the organic cotton landscape in Pakistan. This workshop was able to achieve that and more. We expect this to be a regular feature and hope the next workshop will be held near farm areas to get better context of organic farming in Pakistan. Saqib Sohail, CSR & Cotton Project Lead, Artistic Milliners
It was worth attending to understand the working, discipline and future vision of OCA for Organic Cotton growth. The most important part of this event was that all the stakeholders were eager to share their experience, expertise and willingness for the growth and development of Organic Cotton in Pakistan. This will surely strengthen the promising organic cotton supply chain in Pakistan. Interloop Ltd is committed to playing its part in the growth of Sustainable cotton production in Pakistan. Maqbool Baig, Interloop Ltd
A country with immense organic cotton potential
Pakistan has had a history of near self-sufficiency in cotton. Over recent years though, the share of cotton production has declined. Pakistan has become a large net importer, unable to keep up with factory exports. The country had no significant history of organic cotton farming, especially since the introduction of genetically modified cotton. After a successful pilot implemented in 2021-22, OCA launched its fieldwork in Pakistan in 2022. But unfortunately, tragedy struck the country during the summer of the same year, with floods affecting millions of people and over one million hectares of agricultural land. Notably, the Balochistan and Sindh provinces were hit by the hardest floods, with severe crop losses, especially cotton, disturbing the livelihoods of farming communities. The tragic natural event has only confirmed the urgent need to work with at-risk communities to build more sustainable and resilient farming practices.
With collaborative partnerships established, OCA is now in a place to support the growth of organic production in Pakistan and invest in the enabling environment required for a healthy and thriving organic cotton sector.
Organic cotton is a natural way to achieve regenerative and protect biodiversity. Pakistan has great potential to grow organic cotton in new virgin and barren lands. This will help improve the income of smallholder farmers. There is a need to develop high-yielding varieties through conventional breeding and develop bio inputs to get better yields. Dr Khalid Mahmood, Director, SAWIE
OCA is good at bridging the gap between farmers and industry, which is very encouraging. Based on my experience, I can say that there was the Green Revolution, followed by the Biotechnology Revolution. Now, together, let us move towards the Regenerative Revolution. Babar Bajwa, Sr. Regional Director-Asia, CABI CWA
Congratulations to the OCA team for establishing a common plate form for Pakistan’s sustainable cotton. It will help knowledge sharing and collective efforts to boost value-added textiles from Pakistan. Let’s strive together for a better future! Assad Bajwa, South Asian Sourcing