Agri Business

An initiative to make cotton cultivation economical, eco-friendly

L.N. Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on April 05, 2011

cotton

It is not often that cotton farmers get to meet brand retailers and project partners, more importantly foreigners for a face-to-face interaction. Most farmers hardly know which spinning mill is sourcing the produce from their field, much less, the retail brands at the end of the supply chain. And this was no chance meeting either.

When Solidaridad, a global network organisation, facilitated a meeting of select cotton farmers engaged in “Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)” project with brand retailers such as Arvind, IKEA, Marks & Spencer and Nike among others here, five cotton farmers from Athur belt in Tamil Nadu and an equal number or more from the North seemed quite proud that the produce from their farms were reaching places they could never dream of visiting in their lifetime.

The farmers seemed genuinely proud of being a member of the BCI project, which aims to promote measurable improvements in cultivation practices to make cotton cultivation economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

Sharing his experience with Business Line, R Aligivel, a cotton farmer from Athur said he used to spend around Rs 6,000/acre before being initiated into the BCI. “Now I am able to save around Rs 2,000/acre. The outgo is roughly Rs 4,000/acre now and the price that the cotton fetches in the market is remunerative.”

These farmers have been introduced to the project by Super Spinning Mills. Mr Aligivel however maintained that there was no binding clause to sell the produce only to SSM. “We make the cash and carry sale at the market yard.”

To a query on agriculture labour, the grower said “there is shortage of manpower, but we manage to rope in farm hands from the Southern districts during the picking season.”

‘Our philosophy is to develop a market for ‘”Better Cotton,” to make production better for the people who produce it,” asserted Ms Deboleena Sengupta, Team Leader, Solidaridad – India.

She said that Solidaridad formulated production principles and criteria to provide a global definition of “Better Cotton.”

“We provide support by working with implementing partners, link them to the market, monitor, evaluate and measure progress to ensure that the intended impacts the beneficiaries directly.”

The initiative which was started last year is being taken forward by eight project partners and has within its fold around 14000 farmers.

At the end of season review, Ms Sengupta said that there was an overwhelming response to this initiative and close to 30,000 farmers had evinced interest to become members during the second year of the project. “We provide only knowledge advice and it is a flexible model,” she added.

Published on April 05, 2011

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