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US Organic Cotton Production Dips 35 Per Cent

25 April 2012

US - Momentum to seriously address sustainability issues within the textile industry is gaining traction at the brand level. While initial surveys from the 2011 Cotton Market Report indicate the clear majority of responding brands and retailers are maintaining or increasing their organic cotton commitments, this message is not making it to the farmers.

Guaranteed subsidies or benefits from other sustainable cotton initiatives, especially coming out of a recession, are luring farmers away from planting organic on vague market signals or speculation, according to the Cornucopia Institute.

That coupled with several factors in India, the largest producer of organic cotton for four years running, is having the biggest effect on global organic fibre production.

Next year (2011/12) TE is expecting a further five per cent decline, which is nowhere near as dramatic as the drop experienced this year. All the same, the future of organic cotton depends upon the sector undertaking some major changes immediately.

As La Rhea Pepper, Managing Director of Textile Exchange, explains, the report shows a mixed picture: “We are seeing most of the production decline occurring in India – where almost 70 per cent of our organic cotton is grown. This fall of around 47 per cent will obviously have a serious impact on the amount of organic cotton available to brands and retailers with organic cotton collections and without formal partnerships. Which is the reason for a specific call to action."

“Next year we are expecting another fall – but hopefully within 5 per cent of this year’s figure. We think India will drop another 10-15 per cent and USA is down around 83 per cent due to devastating droughts they experienced last year,” adds Liesl Truscott, Textile Exchange’s Farm Engagement Director.

“In other countries where production is expanding, which equates to almost two thirds of organic cotton producer countries, it is due to the integrity and robustness of this committed business model. Turkey and Tanzania’s production is looking good, with production up 36 and 24 per cent respectively,” says Ms Truscott.

There are some very positive stories coming out of the sector. Observes Ms Pepper: “Those producers with strong organic programmes, particularly those with a committed customer base, are not only solid but increasing capacity each year.”

TheCropSite News Desk

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