Government subsidies keep the world price of cotton artificially low. We work with cooperatives of small-scale farmers so that they can earn sustainable incomes.
We opted for Fairtrade certification to support our sustainable development goals and to ultimately reap benefits for our farmers. Fairtrade has enabled the organization to increase the income and profitability of the farmers.Shailesh Patel, founder and director of RDFC in India
All About Cotton
Cotton is the most widely used natural fibre in the textile sector. Production is dominated by industrial-scale farms in a handful of countries whose governments can afford to protect their markets with subsidies. This means that millions of small-scale farmers in places like West Africa and India are often unable to effectively contribute to supply chains, or earn enough to cover their costs of production, let alone make a living income.
In addition, conventional cotton growing is linked to severe environmental issues – it requires the extensive use of harsh chemicals and vast amounts of water, even more so with climate change affecting harvests.
Fairtrade seeks to improve the prospects of small-scale farmers by creating access to supply chains and markets for their sustainable cotton in the Global North. Our Standards encourage more traditional farming practices, focusing on organic production. Both the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the Fairtrade Premium for cotton, as well as targeted support and training for producers, are aimed at helping producer organizations to become stronger and more resilient businesses.
Since the introduction of Fairtrade cotton, Fairtrade’s goal has been to also address the unsafe and unfair labour conditions in cotton processing and textile factories. In 2016, Fairtrade introduced the new Fairtrade Textile Standard and Program to reach people at all stages of the textile production chain – from seed cotton to finished garments.