The demand of organic cotton products is soaring. Therefore, you would anticipate farmers queuing up to convert to organic cotton farming, but unfortunately it is not as straightforward as that.
The transition period for a farmer to get the organic certification takes an average of three years as the soil needs to recover from pesticides and synthetic fertilisers used commonly in conventional cotton farming. In this period, the farmers are not paid extra – known as the ‘organic premium’ – even though they must farm according to the rules of organic farming standards – on the contrary, they work harder with a yield decline and under strict regulations to ensure the land eventually qualifies to be certified organic under international standards.
Gudrun Gudmundsdottir, BESTSELLER’s Sustainable Materials Specialist, explains that many smallholder farmers therefore don’t dare to take the risk of going through the tough conversion process without the right support.
“We want to do our part to encourage more farmers to navigate the transition to organic cotton. As we introduce in-conversion cotton in our branded and certified cotton portfolio, we also support the farmers behind it and their commitment to getting their organic cotton certification,” says Gudrun.
“It is a direct signal to farmers that there is a demand for organic fibre and that their efforts to convert their farming to organic practices are supported and valued.”
In-conversion cotton will also support BESTSELLER’s strategy of a direct-to-farm sourcing model. BESTSELLER Sustainability is in dialogue with current partners such as CmiA (Cotton made in Africa) and is part of the multi-stakeholder platform OCA (Organic Cotton Accelerator) to ensure that commitments made to sourcing in-conversion cotton are realised whilst ensuring that farmers are included throughout the process.
Subsequently, all BESTSELLER brands will be able to source, communicate and label their products with in-conversion cotton.
“This way we can build strong relationships and at the same time hopefully secure our supply of future organic cotton volumes,” Gudrun finishes.