Farmers in the Global South have difficulty selling their cotton at sustainable prices because subsidies in countries such as China and the US mean markets are flooded with cheap cotton. Dangerous pesticide use and child labour are prevalent in many areas, while climate change is increasingly presenting a challenge to cotton farmers.
Fairtrade helps in many ways. The Fairtrade Standards prohibit child labour and regulate chemical use – Fairtrade cotton is often also certified organic. Training can be provided to ameliorate the effects of climate change.
The Fairtrade Minimum Price for cotton varies from region to region, but is intended to support sustainable production based on local conditions, no matter how low the international market drops. An additional Fairtrade Premium is paid which is invested by producers in farm and community improvements.
By selling Fairtrade cotton products, businesses are contributing to a more sustainable future for cotton farmers, their communities and the environment. And by buying them, consumers are choosing products that change lives. We encourage you to support our existing cotton licensees: Green Campus Co-op, glo and Oasis Bags. And why not ask other textile manufacturers to source Fairtrade cotton?
The Jat family – three generations of cotton farmers: Nitin (20), Chetan (42), and Bhagirata (72). They live in the village of Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh, India. © Max Havelaar-Foundation (Switzerland)
Nitin wants to continue Fairtrade cotton farming like the generations before him, but would like to also have a government job in the village so he can have an added source of income and pension (as did his grandfather).