Primark expands its sustainable cotton programme
Primark has pledged to train an additional 125,000 smallholder cotton farmers in more sustainable farming methods in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh by the end of 2023.
The group’s sustainable cotton programme trains farmers on using fewer chemical pesticides and fertilisers and less water, thereby preserving the biodiversity and helping to mitigate against climate change. It also lowers input costs and improves yields and profits for the farmer, the group says.
Primark, owned by London-listed Associated British Food, said on Friday the commitment would take the total number of farmers in the programme to over 275,000 by the end of next year.
Currently, almost 40% of Primark clothing is made from recycled fibres or more sustainably sourced materials.
In the next step forward for the Sustainable Cotton programme, Primark has worked with established agricultural experts, CottonConnect, alongside local NGO REEDS (the Rural Education and Economic Development Society), to introduce the programme into Pakistan. With an additional 20,000 farmers enrolled in the programme in Pakistan, over 30,000 farmers across both sourcing regions will be trained in sustainable farming methods by 2022.
Pakistan is already a key sourcing country for Primark. The country’s fertile landscape creates an optimal environment for cotton to grow, with an established textile manufacturing industry in the region and strong trade routes to other markets. Building on the success of the programme that launched in Gujarat, India in 2013 – which has so far seen more than 6,000 independent cotton farmers enrolled in the programme and an average profit increase of almost 200% for those who have completed their training – farmers in Pakistan can expect to take home increased profit and yield.
The Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme was designed to train smallholder farmers in sustainable farming methods. Farmers are trained by CottonConnect in the most appropriate farming techniques for their land, from seed selection, sowing, soil, water, pesticide and pest management, to picking, fibre quality, grading and storage of the harvested cotton. By starting at the very beginning of the supply chain, the partnership allows Primark to trace the cotton through every stage of the supply chain, from farming to the supplier’s factory floor to Primark shelves in store.
Shahid Saleem, Executive Director at REEDS, said: “We’ve been working to try to improve lives within rural communities in Pakistan for 16 years. This is the first time we have partnered with a large clothing retailer on one of our programmes. By partnering with Primark and CottonConnect, we’ll be able to provide support to thousands of farmers and their families in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan.”
Alison Ward, CEO at CottonConnect, said: “We’re delighted to continue our work with Primark to train more cotton farmers in sustainable farming methods. We see huge potential among the farming community in Pakistan, and we look forward to working in close collaboration with REEDS to develop a programme that meets the needs of local cotton farmers.”
Katharine Stewart, Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Director at Primark, said: “We’re very proud of the Sustainable Cotton Programme, and we’re delighted to be able to use our experience in India to help train and support the farming community in Pakistan. We’ve deliberately targeted regions that are already used by our suppliers, so we can introduce even more cotton grown using sustainable farming methods into our supply chain as soon as possible. Our expansion into Pakistan is the logical next step for us, as we continue to move towards 100% sustainable cotton in our supply chain.”
Paula Dumont Lopez, Trading Director at Primark, said: “At Primark, we’re committed to a sustainable future for everyone and everything involved in our business, so designing these Primark Cares pyjamas made with cotton grown using sustainable farming methods was a really exciting moment for us. As we expand the programme, we’re looking forward to using more and more sustainable cotton across our clothing and homeware ranges.”
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