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Welspun India Rolling Out Cotton Tracking System to Advance Transparency

Home textiles firm Welspun India has invested $6 million to roll out Wel-Trak, a patented fiber-tracking technology to help it identify cotton.

The technology was developed in partnership with Oritain Global, which announced earlier this year its intention to collaborate with companies, including Welspun, to increase transparency in the cotton industry.

Oritain Global, a British company specializing in supply chain traceability, said in September it is implementing ‘fingerprint’ identification technology, currently used in the food industry, to improve transparency in the cotton industry.

The company, which analyses and compares crops based on the composition of the soils in which they are grown, has created new partnerships with U.S. Supima cotton grower J.G. Boswell, Australian upland cotton producer Auscott and Welspun India.

Oritain noted at the time that the move comes as the authenticity of Indian organic cotton has recently been called into question, adding that the company is looking to capitalize on the high level of interest in the transparency and traceability of cotton supply lines.

[Read more about Oritain’s technology: Oritain Introduces ‘Fingerprint’ ID Technology for Cotton Testing]

The Wel-Trak development project uses RFID technology and an in-house software to enable cotton to be tracked and its origin verified at every stage of the supply chain.

In a similar vein, Applied DNA Sciences has developed systems for tagging and tracing cotton at the DNA level from the farm to the retail shelf to address concerns of authenticity and purity of cotton.

Oritain claims its fingerprint identification technology enables the origin of a sample of cotton to be scientifically verified through comparison of the intrinsic properties by measuring the natural properties that exist in the fiber and matching them with the claimed soils or origin to indicate the different geological and environmental conditions of the source.

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These differences are then isolated and used to establish a chemical fingerprint of the sample’s provenance. Samples then claiming to be from that origin can be tested against the firm’s database.

Dipali Goenka, chief executive officer of Welspun India, told the Economic Times of India that in addition to deploying this solution in several cotton growing areas across the globe, Welspun India is also helping cotton farmers grow better quality cotton and also encourage them to try organic cotton.

“Currently, we are guiding over 3,000 cotton farmers in the Wardha region near Nagpur and the Nakhatrana region near Bhuj and we are aiming to take it to at least 10,000 cotton farmers soon,” Goenka said.