Great Business Future with Cotton Cultivation

Great Business Future with Cotton Cultivation

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Cotton is one of the most used fibres in the world. While it’s been used since ancient times, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of producing it and made it into the powerhouse industry that it is today. The fibre is usually spun into yarn or thread that can then be used to create a soft, versatile and breathable textile that’s used in various applications. From the clothing we wear to the bedding we sleep in, cotton is a daily part of our lives, so much so that an estimated 25 million tonnes are produced every year.

But, like most huge industries, cotton production has its dark side. The production of cotton is a big part of industry in developing countries, but many workers and farmers receive low pay and prices for cotton production, especially as they are having to compete with developed countries (the USA is the largest exporter of cotton in the world). According to The Guardian, over 300 million farmers rely on cotton to make a living, yet low prices have kept many in poverty.

There are also workers’ rights issues, particularly in countries such as Uzbekistan, where the autocratic government allegedly implements forced labour by forcing over a million state workers to pick cotton in the Autumn months. These human rights issues have led to many companies committing to not using cotton sourced from Uzbekistan.

The environment is also a big concern when it comes to producing cotton. Cotton is a thirsty crop, with 10,000 litres of water used per kilogram of cotton. This leads to depletion of nearby rivers and lakes, affecting populations that are already suffering from water scarcity. The heavy use of pesticides has also been criticised due to their effects on the local environment and the damage to workers’ health.

So, what is the world doing to ensure that the trade of cotton is fair and safe for all?

One scheme that has become widely adopted is the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). This is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes better global standards in cotton farming, accounting for 14% of global cotton production. At the end of 2017, BCI membership included 1,197 members. This includes retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, producer organisations and more.

Companies like Vision Support Services, a global textile supplier, have joined BCI to promote water and agricultural sustainability as well as encouraging fair work practices, better livelihoods and good working conditions for farmers and workers – even extending to training farmers to minimise their impact on the environment. This also allows companies to adopt a fully accountable and traceable cotton system that can be followed from start to finish.

Other schemes include the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, which includes major brands pledging to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. The Fairtrade Foundation also runs a Fairtrade Cotton scheme, which promotes similar improvements to BCI.

When choosing where to buy cotton products from, such as clothing or textiles, it’s important to do some quick research to discover if the company you are about to buy from is a member of one of these schemes. Using sustainable cotton is important not just for the environment and the future of the industry, but the health and jobs of millions of cotton workers around the world.

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