The certification of Pakistan’s first organic cotton bale has been the major breakthrough event in the country’s cotton sector, marking the first step towards the potential development of an organic cotton supply chain in the South Asian country.
Pakistan being the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter of raw cotton, has achieved this milestone which is the aftermath of an initiative launched in Baluchistan about four years ago by C&A and WWF-Pakistan in partnership with the Directorate of Agriculture Extension of Baluchistan.
WWF-Pakistan with funding support from C&A foundation has been working with Baluchistan’s Directorate of Agriculture Extension since 2015 on a programme to promote organic cotton cultivation amongst small and marginal tribal farmers. Through this alliance, around 4000 smallholder farmers have been trained and are now able to see the fruits of their labour.
In order to celebrate the first bale of certified organic cotton, participants from government departments, WWF-Pakistan and the cotton supply chain attended an event organized at AA Cotton Ginning Factory located in Sadiqabad.
Cotton and Cotton products contribute about 10 per cent to GDP and 55 per cent to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Also 30 to 40 per cent of cotton is consumed domestically as final products whereas the remainder is exported as raw cotton, yarn, cloth and garments.
It is worth noting that Organic cotton is grown without using any chemical fertilisers or pesticides and is cultivated on land that is detoxified from residues of chemical fertilisers and pesticides over a period of at least three years. Furthermore, the seeds that are used to grow organic cotton are not genetically modified and are kept clean from chemical impurities during processing and packaging. If the cotton crop produced adheres to the standards of organic cotton farming in its initial two years it is known as in conversion cotton. By the third year the yield is certified as organic cotton.
“This is a landmark moment for the cotton sector in the country and we applaud the farmers in making this happen. While there is still more to be done in addressing the challenges related to non-GMO seeds and certification infrastructure, we believe that this is a promising start to the scale up of organic cotton in Pakistan.” – Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials , C&A Foundation