Around 100 million rural households are engaged in cotton production in more than 75 countries around the globe. Ninety percent of the world’s cotton farmers live in developing countries, which is where Fairtrade focuses its efforts.
Cotton farmers grapple not only with price volatility but also with competition from other sources. Beyond the markets, unpredictable droughts and heavy rains have hit the cotton farmers hard. For farmers very invested in a single crop, adapting to the new norms of a changing climate is incredibly challenging.
Fairtrade cotton was launched to put the spotlight on these farmers who are often left invisible, neglected, and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain. Through tools like the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium and stronger, more democratic organisations, Fairtrade has sought to provide these farmers with an alternative route to trade and higher, more stable incomes.
Fairtrade not only works with farmers who have formed small producer organizations but also with contract production organizations in the process of forming independent cooperatives. Nearly 95 percent of Fairtrade cotton is produced by over 34,000+ cotton farmers across Central and South Asia. India grows the most Fairtrade certified cotton and represents approx. 90 percent of the total FT cotton sales. In 2018 India alone generated a Fairtrade premium amount of EUR 1,336,457 which was utilised for various social, economic, and environmental projects to support the cotton farmers and their communities.
The impact of the COVID-19 19 pandemic on the global economy remains highly uncertain. Every year, cotton farmers face risks such as low rainfall, price volatility, and rising debts. But risks from the COVID-19 pandemic are putting new challenges in front of a sector that is already under threat.
The Fairtrade Cotton Panel discussion on- ‘Leveraging Fairtrade Model for Market Expansion and Income diversification in a sustainable cotton supply chain’ is organised by Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP) and funded by the European Union (EU). The event aims to provide a platform for dialogue between the various Fairtrade cotton supply chain actors on the challenges and opportunities in the production, marketing, and trade of sustainable cotton and explore various means of opportunities for diversifying the incomes of cotton farmers and producers to generate an additional source of income. National Fairtrade Marketing Organisation along with renowned brands in Europe will discuss the market trends, opportunities and forecasts during and post-pandemic critical to driving the expansion of FT market and various initiatives to promote the growth of Fairtrade cotton in their existing markets.
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