Pakistan celebrates an important milestone with its first bale of organic cotton

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At C&A Foundation we believe that fashion can be a force for good, and a key to achieving this transformation is the acceleration of sustainable materials, and in particular organic cotton. We are proud to announce that this month, at an AA Cotton Ginning Factory in Sadigabad, WWF Pakistan and the Agriculture Extension Department of Balochistan, celebrated the first bale of certified organic cotton to be produced at scale in Pakistan.

“Together we have made a major breakthrough in the cotton sector of Pakistan that will benefit each stakeholder and the overall economy of Pakistan,”  

- Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF Pakistan

Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter of raw cotton. Cotton and cotton products contribute about 10% to the countries GBP. While the country has done some pioneering work in the production of more sustainable cotton – including Better Cotton (BCI) - for the most part, cotton is grown using conventional farming practices involving the use of chemical inputs and GMO seeds.

Recognizing the potential for change in the Pakistani cotton industry, in 2015 C&A Foundation invited WWF Pakistan to take the lead in developing the country’s first large scale organic cotton programme. Together with their partner Agriculture Extension Department of Balochistan, they have successfully enrolled around 4000 farmers in a rigorous training and certification process.

And thanks to the perseverance of the organisations involved, and the hard work of the extension workers and farmers, they are starting to have success on the ground. A success that not only brings benefits to farmers and farming communities, but that has benefits for the environment, the economy, and the entire sector.

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.

Now it is up to brands and supply chain actors to encourage the farmers by committing to buy their cotton. This will cement the business case for farmers and give impetus to the much-needed scale in the production of organic cotton. 

Even as we celebrate this important milestone, we recognize that there is still much work to be done - like increasing access to good quality seed and the infrastructure needed for testing and certification. We look forward to tackling the next steps together with our partners, like WWF Pakistan.

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