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Organic cotton demand outstrips supply – Mr Mahesh, Arvind Ltd
Nov '10
One more informative session at the International Denim Conference, which caught the attention of the stakeholders and industry leaders of the textile sector and the denim industry in particular and kept them captivated, was the presentation by Mr Mahesh Ramakrishnan, Head – Agribusiness at Arvind Limited on 'Organic cotton & denim'.

Cotton is produced in more than 65 countries worldwide and represents over 2.4 percent of global arable land, involving about 30 million farmers and considering that almost one kilogram of hazardous pesticides is sprayed for every hectare under cotton, cotton consumes, 16% of global insecticide releases – more than any other single crop, Mahesh said.

In 2009-10, India produced 29.5 million cotton bales (1 bale = 170 kg lint) and is home to over one third of the world's cotton farmers and cotton also accounts for 54 percent of all pesticides used annually – despite occupying just 5 percent of all land under cultivation, he further divulged.

On the other side of the cotton spectrum, organic cotton production which is pesticide free, offers a strong alternative to current production methods, along with which, purchasing decisions made by consumers have the ability to directly impact production methods and thereby both environmental security and social equity. Consumer demand for organic cotton currently stands at between US $3-4 billion, and is growing rapidly, such that demand currently outstrips supply.

The key factors driving organic market development include consumer interest in 'green' products, significant expansion of existing organic cotton programs by brands and retailers, like Marks & Spencer, Woolworth, Wal-Mart, C&A and Carrefour.

Global retail sales of organic cotton products have been ascending at a growth rate of more than 35 percent in the last few years, having grown from a mere US $245 million in 2001 to $1.966 billion in 2007 and by touching a staggering $4.3 billion in 2009. As per OE surveys, in 2009, C&A (Belgium), Nike Inc and Wal-Mart (both from USA) are the top three organic cotton consuming retailers globally.

In 2009, 22 countries grew organic cotton and the global total acreage stood at approximately 625,000 acres, sown by around 220,000 farmers and in total produced around 175,113 tons (802,599 bales) and which represents 0.76 percent of overall cotton production. India remains the largest organic cotton fiber producer in the world with an output of 107,510 tons representing 61.41 percent of world organic output.

He continued by saying that, denim is the single largest consumer of cotton accounting for around 17 percent of global cotton consumption.

The he informed about Arvind's organic cotton program and also its initiative in organic denim. Arvind started organic denim production in 2007, producing one million meters and today it produces eight million meters a year, which is 8 percent of its total production. Wal-Mart, Patagonia, H&M, C&A, Timberland, etc are the major supporters of Arvind's organic denim initiative.

Arvind's organic cotton contract farming project is located in the cotton growing belt district of Maharashtra; Akola. From just 2 talukas, 33 villages, 293 farmers and 1,355 acres of cotton acreage in 2007-08 it has now enlarged to 6 talukas, 132 villages, 4,000 farmers and cotton under cultivation, has also surged around 12 times to 16,500 acres.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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