Capturing highlights from the Organic Cotton & Textiles Conference 2023
It’s been three years since our last large in-person event, especially one that brings together the full spectrum of key players across the supply chain and since then, the organic cotton and textile sector has expanded, demand has increased and innovation has advanced.
With this growth come new challenges and opportunities. OCA, GOTS and IFOAM – Organics International came together, determined to keep pace, and ensure impact and integrity continue to be front and centre of what we are collectively aiming to achieve. By focusing on key and critical topics, bringing all changemakers to the same table, our co-hosted conference encouraged tough and honest conversations, inspired idea sharing and laid the foundations for future initiatives.
As we look back on at the Organic Cotton & Textiles Conference which took place in Indore, India, we reflect on its impact on the organic cotton community and we hear from our teams who captured highlights from the event. The extensive agenda and focused topics were a called out by attendees as key for the sector with an emphasis on the inspirational discussions with organic cotton and in-conversion farmers. The opportunity to view the on-the-ground impact of our collective efforts with a field trip to Petlawad, meeting a variety of farmers and viewing various farm projects left a strong and lasting impression on all.
We look forward to seeing the results of stronger sector relationships forged during the event, the next steps towards innovative initiatives through collaboration and the impact of an empowered organic textile supply chain.
We heard from OCA’s Executive Director Bart Vollaard after the conference about the impact it had:
I am grateful for the positive feedback and to hear participants left reconnected and inspired, giving a big boost of confidence to all partners putting in the hard work on the ground.
I want to thank our wonderful speakers and panellists, the farmers who welcomed us to their fields and their convention, our co-hosting organizations, GOTS and IFOAM – International our honourable guests Roop Rashi Mahapatra, Textile Commissioner of India and Dr A.K. Yadav, Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture. A big thank you to the team at Pratibha Syntex Ltd for hosting the field trip, and of course, our amazing team at OCA for a job well done. I’m looking forward to the next one!
OCA’s Head of South Asia, Jyoti Sharma, also shared with us her feedback on the three-day event, commenting:
Amongst the many “wow” moments, I was deeply moved by the dynamism and resilience of organic cotton farmers who set the stage ablaze with their indigenous innovations, pragmatic approaches and charming wit while passionately discussing their daily toils and their big wins in their organic cotton farms. The Farmers’ Voices was a heart-warming validation of how OCA’s organic cotton farmers are reaping the fruits of their labour and progressively enriching their lives and livelihoods.
Witnessing our honourable guests, Roop Rashi Mahapratra, Textile Commissioner of India and Dr A.K. Yadav, Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture cheering the women organic cotton farmers from the audience was a brilliant sight to say the least!
Rahul Bhajekar, Managing Director of GOTS looks back on the conference and shares his thoughts with us:
It was a pleasure interacting with all the participants in the organic value chain including representatives from government. We recognise that change is built upon collaboration, and it was incredibly powerful to see what happens when we bring together all of the players in the organic cotton and textile sector, to create the foundation of a stronger future for all.
From the organic farmers, farm groups, suppliers, and retailers to the representatives from non-profits, academics, and policymakers – we were all at the table together, focusing on critical topics and sharing the challenges and solutions that will drive change in the industry moving forward. We take with us the strong commitment from the community which will give us added impetus to continue on the path of sustainable textiles for the world.
Conference keynote speaker and Vice President of our co-host of IFOAM – Organics International, Choitresh Ganguly, voices his experience of the sector event:
After a long time, I attended an international conference that truly brought together farmers, for-profits, non-profits, certifiers, buyers and sellers, academics, and policymakers. We gathered together in both conversation and debate, with a clear focus on organic textiles and the idea of a win – win for all along the value (supply) chain – from the farmers to the consumers, while drawing our collective attention to the urgency of healing the ecosystems of our planet.
Gitanjali Puri, Programme Officer at OCA and Mathilde Tournebize Programme Manager – Seed and Innovation both share their experience of the conference with us:
The Organic Cotton and Textile Conference for me was nothing short of a stupendous experience. Graced by individuals working across different verticals within the sector it was incredible to see everyone come together under one roof and engage in such enriching conversations around sustainability and how we can really improve the efforts we make.
I took back not just a lot of motivation from this entire three-day event, but also reaffirmed faith in the work that we are all doing together in our own ways and capacities towards a better and greener future.
At the OCTC we also got a lot of programmatic work done behind the scenes. This year 3 out of OCA’s 4 partnering seed producers of OCA attended the conference. It was great to see them actively participating in the panel sessions, speak on behalf of their peers and see their enthusiasm for the agenda of seed programme 2023/24.
OCA’s Partnership Manager Leandro Viecili says:
Attending the Organic Cotton & Textiles Conference in India was an incredibly impactful experience for me. It was the first time I had the opportunity to connect in person with so many people I’ve met since I joined OCA last year. The content presented was extremely relevant and well-received by participants, which made me proud to be part of the organizing committee.
Concluding the positive feedback from the conference, we hear from Ruud Schute, OCA’s Programme Director:
The farming community has always been at the heart of the Organic Cotton movement. Therefore, the Organic Cotton & Textiles Conference put our farmers on centre stage to tell us about their stories from the field. So inspiring to see all the different stakeholders connect around one common cause and observe them connecting the dots between integrity, Non-GMO seed assurance, Climate and Biodiversity, Decent Work, and supply chain linkage. A truly global agenda connecting small holder farmers and driving impact.
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Photo credits: Organic Cotton Accelerator & Leandro Viecili