The recent Cotton Demand Insights Report published by Textile Exchange shows an 84% increase in the demand for organic cotton by 2030 compared to a 2019/20 baseline. At OCA, we’re happy to see the demand for organic cotton is strong and growing at an incredible rate. This move towards organic cotton is a step in the right direction for the fashion industry and one that we are committed to supporting.
However, the Demand Insights Report also highlighted the challenges faced in sourcing organic cotton. Both the price of organic cotton and the lack of in-conversion cotton in the pipeline to meet future needs were obstacles for companies meeting sourcing goals. OCA believes that unless proactive steps are taken by retailers and brands, there will be a missed opportunity to scale organic cotton and positively impact farmer communities and the environment.
Since 2016, we have been connecting brands and retailers directly with farmers in India to support and develop sustainable methods of farming, ensuring they stay committed to organic cotton. We are proud to say that in the season 2020/21, our Farm Programme worked with over 24,000 farmers in India, due to the investment and long term commitment of our Contributor Partners.
We know more needs to be done to facilitate the journey to organic – supporting in-conversion cotton is the most sustainable solution. Companies are projecting an average 10% increase in uptake each year, through to 2025, and a 15% annual increase between 2025 and 2030, however, only 27% have incorporated in-conversion cotton into their sourcing strategy. By taking action now and investing in in-conversion programmes, which often need up to 36 months to complete, retailers and brands can commit to meet the future demand. OCA has already started pilot programmes in India to facilitate the transition of farms from conventional cotton to organic and this year we are look forward to extending our operations into Pakistan.
We acknowledge the importance of pricing and creating conditions for a stable market environment. Pricing was listed by retailers and brand as a major obstacle to sourcing organic cotton in the Demand Insights Report, but by investing in farm programmes, like ours, price fluctuations can be avoided. As a farm centric organisation, our focus is on our commitment to delivering a premium to the farmers as this creates a fair and honest value chain for all involved.
We commend the many brands and retailers who have started to take steps forward in tackling these sector challenges by entering investment programmes and confirming long term commitments to farmers. We welcome this sea change and will continue to rally the sector to encourage new Contributors to join us in our collective action.
Retailers and brands can lead the change that is needed to drive the organic cotton sector forward, meeting future demands and protecting farmer livelihoods. The time to act is now.