Organic cotton is increasingly becoming a common ingredient in denim production, and mills are taking proactive steps to ensure there’s enough to go around.
Pakistani vertically integrated denim manufacturer Soorty recently signed on as a contributor to the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), a multi-stakeholder organization fully dedicated to bringing supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic cotton farming through seed and innovation programs.
As a contributor, Soorty will provide support and investment to drive OCA’s farming programs dedicated to improving the livelihoods of organic cotton farmers and farmers that are transitioning to organic agriculture. It’s a mission that the manufacturer is also promoting through its own Soorty Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI), one of the first private sector projects set up to facilitate a shift to a more ecologically and socially responsible cotton agronomy.
Launched in partnership with WWF-Pakistan, the Department of Agriculture Extension, Balochistan, and with support and input from the Laudes Foundation—which provides partners with philanthropic capital, expertise, and connections—the program helps underprivileged farming communities become a valuable sourcing partner for the global apparel industry.
Through SOCI, approximately 1,000 farmers from Naal, the largest tehsil of Khuzdar District of Balochistan, Pakistan, will transition to a safer, organic method of producing cotton over the next four years. The project aims to improve the lives and livelihoods in one of the most underserved provinces of the country, OCA stated.
“SOCI goes beyond just cultivating organic cotton. It is about uplifting the farming families of this deprived region through higher income, better schooling and access to professional health services,” said Asad Soorty, Soorty Enterprises director. “It’s about transforming the way cotton buying is conducted, by creating a blockchain-based transparent digital marketplace and traceability mechanism. This is our first foray into farming, and we’re excited by the possibilities in front of us.”
Fashion label Esprit and Insignian Home, a company that designs, manufactures and exports home textiles, also signed on as OCA contributors.
“This collaborative approach allows us to lay the foundations for future supply and tackle the growing demand for organic cotton as a raw material whilst positively impacting people and the planet,” OCA stated. “They join our growing base of dedicated organizations united to bring meaningful impact and change to the organic cotton sector.”
Since its establishment in 2016, with founding partners Laudes Foundation, H&M, Kering, Eileen Fisher, Textile Exchange, Tchibo, Inditex and C&A, OCA has been committed to convening the sector around a common agenda and using the platform’s collective investments to act as a catalyst for change. From 2019 to 2020, it the accelerator reached more than 12,000 farmers through its farming program. During this period, 2 percent of the farmers in the program earned on average 2 percent higher net income from their cotton than conventional farmers.