Shell Foundation to develop cotton supply chains in India

"The partnership between Shell Foundation, European retailer C&A and Organic Exchange jointly plans to invest an estimated USD 4 million over 5 years in developing sustainable (organic) cotton supply chains in India," Shell Foundation Regional Director Anuradha Bhavnani told reporters. India, the largest supplier of organic cotton in the world, supplied its entire production of 107,510 tonnes to the overseas market in 2008-09, the foundation said.

There is more focus on setting up supply chains as "global retail brands are estimated to source close to 3.5 million tonne of organic (sustainable) cotton from India in the next seven years," she noted. For instance, C&A, the world's second biggest retailer using organic cotton, plans to convert 100 per cent of its sourcing to organic cotton by 2020, she said.

Last year, C&A manufactured 18 million garments with organic cotton purchased from India, with support from the Shell Foundation, she added. The strategic partnership to create sustainable supply chains is being initiated under its market-driven programme, 'Trading UP', said the Shell Foundation, which is working in India to help marginal farmers shift to organic farming by facilitating market access.

Shell Foundation Director-Trading UP Alison Rodwell, said recently that market linkages from farm-to-shelf for sustainable cotton is just a start. “Our vision is to transform retail supply chains -- taking cotton from the fields and workshops to the retailer's shelves -- so that they positively contribute to poverty alleviation."

Currently, only two per cent of the total cotton cultivation, with 2-3 million hectares of land, in India is under organic cotton farming. Bhavnani further said that the country's organic cotton production was expected to amount to 3,05,000 tonnes during 2009-10, as against 1,07,510 tonnes in the previous year.

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