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Inside Artistic Milliners’ Indigenous Organic Cotton Project

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Cotton production in Pakistan is integral to the economic development of the country, as the nation is the fifth-largest producer of cotton in the world and the third-largest exporter of raw cotton. Cotton and its products contribute about 10 percent to gross domestic product and 55 percent to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of cotton is consumed domestically as final products.

The country boasts a rich and ancient story as a cotton-growing civilization, which can be traced back hundreds of years.

And now it’s poised to lead the world’s sustainability efforts. Organic cotton still comprises less than 1 percent of global cotton production, and concerns continue over the integrity of its certification. Pakistan’s Balochistan province has been identified as a pure virgin land that offers a unique opportunity for large-scale supply of authentic organic cotton.

Artistic Milliners has joined WWF Pakistan in its efforts to support growth in this region.

In 2017, WWF Pakistan, in collaboration with C&A Foundation and Agriculture Extension Department (AED), initiated the organic cotton project under the National Organic Program (NOP) in two major phases:

  1. Certification for the validation of using no pesticides and approval of the land for cultivation of organic cotton
  2. Investment in the training of more than 4,000 farmers to cope with the essence of organic cotton production standards

To support the revitalization of the ancient cotton-growing civilization in the region, Artistic Milliners joined forces with WWF Pakistan and other partners by pre-booking all the organic cotton from the first ginners and farmers. Pre-booking means that Artistic Milliners places an order for the organic cotton at a premium rate even before it is produced, giving confidence to the farmers to make the extra effort needed for organic cotton cultivation.

Artistic Milliners’ pre-booking initiative is likely to be a real source of motivation for ginners and farmers who were reluctant in the beginning to follow the pathway of organic cotton production because of financial concerns. It also rewards the producers’ efforts toward making this a successful project that will propel Pakistan’s organic cotton sector in new directions.

As an implementation partner of WWF Pakistan, Artistic Milliners engages directly with its upstream supply chain to support farmers, ginners and women cotton pickers and build an ecosystem of sustainable organic cotton supply from Pakistan.

The goal is to reinvent the cotton ecosystem from farms to mill to reclaim cotton’s identity as a socially and environmentally friendly crop. Due to natural pesticides, organic cotton is not just better for the environment, it’s better for our skin.

Artistic Milliners is actively supporting the organic cotton farming, which is a fairly new initiative in Pakistan. By promoting the production of organic cotton, Artistic Milliners is a step ahead in closing the loop and making a greater contribution to the circular textile economy.

Here are some of the ways we are encouraging farmers to produce organic cotton:

  • Sustaining the Demand: We purchase as much organic cotton as we can from the farmers at a premium rate.
  • Establishing Strategic Partnerships: WWF is our strategic partner in the organic cotton project. In collaboration with Balochistan’s Organic Farmers, WWF has been providing the necessary training to the farmers in all aspects of organic farming.
  • Obtaining GOTS Certification: From seed to weave, the entire process of making fabric from organic cotton is GOTS certified.
  • Training Cotton Pickers: We are providing basic financial literacy and personal hygiene skills to the women cotton pickers to help them lead more empowered lives.
  • Becoming Digitized: We created an app to upload and track data on the cloud for transparency and real-time weather and terrain condition.

Artistic Milliners has been a participant of the United Nations Global Compact since 2018 and is an active member of Global Compact Network Pakistan. The mill is also a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles and was nominated as SDG pioneer by UNGC in 2019. We support the Sustainable Development Goals, which lay out a clear vision for a sustainable future and represent an opportunity to shape a new era for responsible business.

Artistic Milliners, Denim Company of the Future.

Click here to learn more about Artistic Milliners, and follow the company on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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