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Japanese program to support organic cotton sector of India

30
Aug '12
Nearly 30,000 low-income cotton farmers in India will gain improved health and increased incomes by switching to organic cotton production, following a commitment made by two Japanese companies to the Business Call to Action (BCtA).

BCtA is a global initiative that encourages companies to develop innovative business models that combine commercial success and sustainable development. It is supported by several international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Japan-based general trading company ITOCHU Corporation and kurkku – a firm that promotes environmentally conscious lifestyle through sales of sustainably sourced food and apparel – have pledged to improve the income of Indian farmers, their health, and the environment, by scaling up production of organically produced cotton, which is free of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers and has an approximately 30 percent higher market price.
 
The two companies pledged to scale up their Pre Organic Cotton (POC) Programme, which encourages farmers in India to switch from conventional to organic cotton production by guaranteeing to buy the cotton that is organically produced at a price higher than that of conventional cotton. Such a commitment is critical to the initiative’s success since it typically takes three years for farmers to obtain an organic certification; in the meantime, they are growing organic cotton, which costs more to produce, but are forced to sell it at cheaper, conventional cotton prices.
 
During the three-year waiting period, the participating farmers will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in their income, with a projected additional 12 percent increase once their farms gain official international organic certification.
 
“Companies such as ITOCHU and kurkku demonstrate the potential of innovative business partnerships to generate value for companies as well as communities,” said Susan Chaffin, Programme Manager of the Business Call to Action. “This new commitment to the BCtA, the first in recent years by a company from Japan, supports environmentally sustainable agriculture while at the same time increasing income for farmers in India.”
 
Cotton occupies a mere five percent of all farmland in India, yet it accounts for more than half of the country’s pesticide use, adding a financial burden to farmers and causing serious health concerns including skin and respiratory diseases.
 
 


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