By admin       2018-05-12

C&A Foundation has joined forces with the Government of Madhya Pradesh in calling for collaboration to build a more robust and resilient organic cotton sector in the Indian state. The two jointly hosted the 'Cotton Trailblazers' event in Bhopal to highlight Madhya Pradesh's strength in organic cotton production and the role of organic cotton cultivation in improving the livelihood of its farmers. It was attended by government representatives including policy-makers and members from academia, stakeholders from across the organic cotton supply chain including representatives of international brands and retailers, as well as a large number of organic cotton farmers. While applauding the initiatives of the Government of Madhya Pradesh in creating a favourable policy environment for organic cotton cultivation in the state, the speakers also highlighted the challenges the sector is facing. And they called on stakeholders to work collaboratively towards building a more prosperous value chain for organic cotton that benefits everyone from farm to store – farmers, manufacturers, brands, research institutes, and civil society. "Madhya Pradesh is the leader in India's organic farm output and a global leader in the production of organic cotton," said Anita Chester, head of sustainable raw materials at C&A Foundation. "This needs to be celebrated. We also need to make note of the many challenges that present themselves in the sector so there is much still to be done." According to the Government of Madhya Pradesh, 2 lakh (200,000) hectares of land in the central Indian state is organically cultivated, of which 30,000 hectares is organic cotton. Shri Gaurishankar Bisen, minister for farmer welfare and agriculture development, says the Government is committed to promoting organic cotton and has set in place institutional mechanisms for its advancement. "Through this international summit, we want to encourage farmers to adopt organic cotton farming and hope to organise many more events like this in the future, to create awareness and build enthusiasm amongst farmers for organic farming. We look forward to implement the best practices and learnings we have taken from the various discussions here and will share it with the farmer communities at large.'' He added that while Madhya Pradesh leads the organic cotton sector in India, there is a need to do more for the entire cotton sector. "We have been able to achieve this status because of availability of manure from cattle farming, reduced use of chemical fertilisers and using organic farming techniques at all stages.'' The aim is to increase organic cotton farming from 30,000 to 75,000 hectares in the next three years. The Government has sanctioned around 100 organic cotton clusters under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) farming programme. The state has also established a pesticides residue testing centre to improve quality of exports and is establishing India's first Centre of Excellence for organic research in Mandla and organic cotton research in Khandwa. "We strongly believe these steps would be key enablers in overcoming the barriers to organic cotton cultivation, addressing agricultural concerns for farmers in a sustainable manner," added Dr Rajesh Rajora, honourable principal secretary, department of farmer welfare and agriculture development. Despite the fact that organic cotton farming is beneficial for the environment and helps farmers in reducing cultivation costs by adoption of natural (non-chemical) inputs in cultivation, organic cotton production remains less than 1% of global cotton production. The Government of Madhya Pradesh and C&A Foundation say they are seeking to change this scenario.

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