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Primark extends program to support women farmers
09
Mar '16
UK fashion retailer Primark has extended its partnership of the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme, with the India based Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) by an additional six years.

The partnership is designed to support women from traditionally male-dominated farming communities in Gujarat, India, to introduce sustainable farming methods, improve cotton yields and increase their incomes.

Set up with agricultural experts, Cottonconnect, and SEWA, the three year pilot trained 1,251 women smallholders resulting in an average profit increase of 211 per cent.

“Over the next six years, an additional 10,000 female farmers will be taken through the programme, with the first seeds being sown by new trainees in April 2016,” a Primark press release revealed.

The Primark programme marks the first time SEWA has been approached to collaborate with a western brand and a specialist agricultural organisation to bring about lasting, sustainable change.

“Global academic studies have revealed that agricultural programmes which effectively involve women can significantly increase cotton production and trigger transformative societal benefits,” Primark observed.

Quoting a United Nations study, the press release informed that closing the gender gap in agriculture globally would generate significant gains for the agriculture sector and for society.

“If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent,” the UN study noted.

A further study by the Global Development Institute in 2013 found that with higher incomes, women are more likely than men to support household welfare and children's education.

Established three years ago, and supported by Primark's Ethical Trading and Environmental Sustainability teams in India, SEWA experts saw significant results.

By the second year, female farmers engaged in the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme recorded an average profit increase of 211 per cent; an average yield increase of 12.6 per cent and a reduction of input costs by 5 per cent.

Other benefits included a 13.5 per cent reduction of fertiliser usage and a 53.5 per cent reduction of pesticide usage, indicating that environmentally sustainable farming methods are being adopted.

Results also included a water usage decline of 12.9 per cent, indicating that water efficiency practices are being adopted.

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