Sustainable cotton production in India

By Alexander Ellebrecht | September 29, 2015

Cotton_500pxIt is expected that within a few years, or even maybe this year, India will overtake China as the largest cotton producing country in the world. The growth that India has shown over the last years is impressive. It is estimated that around 45 million people work in the larger textile industry in India, with an additional 35 million joining them over the next 5 years.

The number one fibre used to produce textiles is still cotton with an approximate 48% share. The cotton supply chain starts with cotton farmers and this is already the point where challenges are faced in the textile supply chain.

Prices of cotton vary and due to a surplus of stocked cotton this year on the market, as well as a drop in global demand, cotton prices have dropped dramatically, resulting in less income for cotton farmers. In combination with increased prices for just about everything from fuel, pesticides and fertilizers to cotton seeds, the average farmer is barely able to support their family.

Growing cotton is not easy. Cotton farmers are often heavily in debt, taking on loans to buy seeds, equipment and pesticides. Even worse, expensive seeds and pesticides are wasted due to poor farm management, resulting in lower yields. When crops fail to deliver, the results can be catastrophic.

That is why organisations such as BCI and Fairtrade aim to support cotton farmers with an array of knowledge, providing access to the market as well as training. Both initiatives result in a better livelihood for cotton farmers and ChainPoint is proud to be the software provider of choice for both BCI and Fairtrade Cotton.

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in India

The Better Cotton Standard System from BCI aims to promote the sustainable production of cotton based on three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic pillars. Through the exchange of good practices, cotton farmers are supported with the production of cotton, saving costs and thus improving their profit and livelihood. Better Cotton is produced in 10 states in India. At present around 146,000 farmers in India produce 160,000 MT of Better Cotton lint.

Globally, around 1.3 Million farmers are now growing Better Cotton. In 2014, 8.7% of all cotton produced was Better Cotton. By 2020, BCI aims to ensure that 30% of all cotton will be Better Cotton, improving the livelihood of millions of smallholder farmers.

Read more about BCI in India:

Fairtrade Cotton

Fairtrade aims to improve the livelihood of farmers at the very bottom of the supply chain. As in many other agricultural commodity supply chains, the producers are at the sharp end of exploitation and injustice in international trade.

Since the introduction of the first Fairtrade Minimum Prices for cotton in 2004, Fairtrade has demonstrated it can substantially improve the lives of cotton producing communities. By selling to the Fairtrade market, cotton farmers have the security that they will receive a Minimum Price which aims to cover their average costs of sustainable production. They also receive a Fairtrade Premium which allows them to invest in community projects, such as schools, roads and health care facilities.

Read more about Fairtrade Cotton:


ChainPoint for brand owners in textile and apparel industry

Besides working for well-respected NGOs such as BCI and Fairtrade, ChainPoint’s software also supports brand-owners in the textile and apparel industry, helping them towards their sustainability and brand protection goals. Using ChainPoint as their supply chain sustainability platform, brand owners can start taking control of their entire supply chain. We have extensive knowledge of the challenges in the textile industry and how IT-solutions can help solve these challenges. Our experts also venture into the field, with visits planned to both India and Bangladesh in October.

If you would like to see first-hand how ChainPoint can help you control and improve the sustainability of your supply chain and company, please contact us.

Related content:


Download our Cotton to Counter Solution Paper

Posted in textile supply chain, cotton supply chain, BCI, Fairtrade, textile, apparel

    Recent Posts