- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
London - Budget fashion retailer Primark has extended its sustainable cotton programme in India for a further six years. The initiative, which launched in 2013 in partnership with CottonConnect and the Self-Employed Women’s Association, is looking to recruit a further 10,000 female smallholder farmers onto the programme.
The aim of the scheme is to support women from traditionally male-dominated farming communities in Gujarat, India, as well as to help introduce sustainable farming methods, improve cotton yields and increase incomes.
According to Primark, the three-year pilot has already trained 1,251 female smallholders, resulting in an average profit increase of 211 percent, as well as an average yield increase of 12.6 percent, and a reduction of input costs by 5 percent.
As well as increased profits and yields, the pilot study also saw a reduction in the use of pesticides by 53.5 percent and 13.5 percent reduction in fertiliser usage, indicating that environmentally sustainable farming methods are being adopted. In addition, the water usage decreased by 12.9 percent.
Over the next six years it is hoped that the sustainable cotton programme can introduce an additional 10,000 female farmers, with the first seeds set to be sown by the new trainees in April 2016.
Paul Lister, who is responsible for Primark’s Ethical Trading Team, said: “Primark has been working hard for the last decade to ensure that the rights of workers within our global supply chain are respected, and the lives of people working within the garment industry in emerging markets change as industrialisation brings new jobs and opportunities.
“The Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme started with a desire to develop a project that would improve sustainable cotton production and make a meaningful difference for cotton farmers.”
CottonConnect chief executive Alison Ward added: “Achieving gender equality and empowering women is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, but no one government, NGO, charity, business or brand can effect positive change alone.
“Working with the Primark team and the Self-Employed Women’s Association, we’ve been able to develop a unique programme that tackles some of the challenges faced in achieving gender equality in farming communities.”