The report ‘Sustainable Cotton
Ranking’ published by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF finds
that “the majority of international companies using the most cotton globally
are failing to deliver on cotton sustainability”. Just eight companies out of
37 were ranked outside the so-called ‘red zone’ in the research conducted by
the brand-comparison site Rank a Brand.
Fairtrade is not surprised by these
findings, as cotton farmers are an often the invisible and forgotten link in a
brand’s supply chains. Currently there are almost 55,000 Fairtrade certified
cotton farmers worldwide, mainly in India and West Africa. 65 percent of them
grow organic cotton. In the last reporting period, Fairtrade cotton producers
sold an average of slightly more than 40 percent of their production volume on
Fairtrade terms – meaning they received the Fairtrade Minimum Price and
Premium. Though this marks an increase on previous years, the lack of market
uptake continues to be a challenge for Fairtrade cotton farmers.
By working with Fairtrade, brands can
support cotton farmers to strengthen their producer organizations, access
improved terms of trade and receive fairer prices. Fairtrade helps put farmers
and workers in control of their own futures, empowering them to lead their own
development projects and create effective, long-term farming businesses. Strong
environmental standards protect the farmers’ health and safety and conserve
nature. Fairtrade invites brands to work with us and build valuable
relationships with the cotton farmers they source from, building a secure
future for their sourcing needs and the farmers’ livelihoods.