Soorty, a Pakistan-based vertical denim manufacturing company, is now adding farming to its umbrella.
The company announced the launch of Soorty Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI), a program that brings organic farming practices and a better way of life to farmers in the Balochistan region of Pakistan.
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.
“SOCI goes beyond just cultivating organic cotton,” said Asad Soorty, director at Soorty. “SOCI is about uplifting the farming families of this deprived region through higher income, better schooling and access to professional health services. 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.”
The project’s first mission centers on the Nall region of Balochistan’s Khuzdar district, situated south of the provincial capital of Quetta City. It aims to bring regenerative farming practices to 7,000 acres of land, helping to produce more than 17,000 metric tons of seed cotton and 6,000 metric tons of cotton lint over the next four years. Blockchain technology and frequent GMO testing will be administered to ensure transparency, tracking and traceability.
Regenerative farming practices, including the use of fewer chemicals and fertilizers, is essential to the environment as well as farmers’ wellbeing, as the industry shifts to more transparent, ethically produced and sourced materials. According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2020 Organic Industry Survey, organic fiber product sales increased 12 percent over 2018 to $2.04 billion in 2019, with most of those sales in organic cotton. Currently, Pakistan makes up just 0.17 percent of the world’s organic cotton.
Organic farming initiatives in the Balochistan region are also a point of focus for Artistic Milliners, which launched its own Milliner Cotton Initiative in the Rahim Yar Khan district last year. The project focuses on the entire scope of the cotton supply chain, from picking to spinning.