The Pre-Organic Cotton (POC) program supports the transition of Indian farmers from growing conventional cotton to growing organic cotton through purchase agreements.
The POC program is a partnership between two Japanese companies, Itochu and kurkku, and works directly with Indian farmers to support organic cotton production. The transition to organic production involves a two to three year certification period, which is a barrier to farmers because cotton yields usually decline by 20% to 30% in the transition process, while prices for the cotton are unchanged until certification is achieved. To overcome this barrier, the POC program proactively purchases the not-yet-certified cotton at a higher price than farmers could obtain on the free market for uncertified organic cotton.
The POC also supports the farmers’ transition process by providing them with non-GMO seeds and training in organic farming methods. The program builds and secures a supply of organic cotton for the project partners, and ensures transparency and improved supply chain efficiency.
According to the partnership, kurkku’s total sales increased by 500% between 2008 and 2012 as a result of the POC Program, showing that the market demand for more sustainable cotton is large.
Why you should care
Organic cotton farming has financial and health benefits for farmers, through higher market prices for the cotton and reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers. Even though global demand for organic cotton is growing, organic cotton accounts for less than 1% of total global cotton production. The POC program addresses the transition difficulties that cotton farmers face, aiming to enable thousands of farmers in India to make the transition to organic cotton production.