About a third of the world’s soil is already degraded… generating two to three centimetres of topsoil takes 1,000 years.
- Textile Exchange, Organic Cotton Market Report 2021
Organic has many positive environmental impacts and is crucial to our journey in not only reducing our water footprint. Organic soil is known to lock away, or sequester, far more carbon than conventional soils.
Organic was less than 1% of last year’s cotton harvest – and as we said earlier, to meet our 100% organic goal sustainably, we need to invest in its supply.
Since 2018, we have been investing in organic farming in India. This year was our biggest yet – training 1,824 farmers on organic farming practices. At the time of writing this report, we have signed agreements with an additional 4,700 farmers to bring them into our training programme, directly connecting Superdry with over 6,500 farmers in FY22.
To grow any organic crop, the land must go through a conversion period. This is the time between the start of a farmer implementing organic practices, and the acceptance of crops as certified organic by the market.
This process takes three years.
Over the course of the project, organic farming experts from bioRe Foundation and SymbioFarms in India provide regular training, tools such as GMO-free seeds, organic fertilisers and pesticides, and market access for their cotton. The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) keeps in touch with the projects to validate the impacts of the training, organic inputs, and any premium earned on the market.
We are supporting these farmers through this three-year journey by buying their ‘in conversion’ cotton at a premium.
With increasing demands on seeds, and challenges in part due to a rise in COVID cases, we also donated seeds upfront to farmers – helping them avoid interest charges from borrowing early in the season.
The reality is that from day one of conversion, the farmer follows stringent organic farming practices and sees better soils and lower production costs. ‘In conversion’ cotton is emerging as a sustainable cotton option and will likely become more recognisable to customers in coming years.
In the meantime, farmers in this group have two years left until they can call their cotton organic – and we will continue to support them every step of the way.