The Arvind Organic Cotton Growing Project
Arvind is committed to support and develop models that bring sustainability to the production of its most valued and extensively used raw material. Cotton farming has traditionally relied extensively on the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are harmful to the environment. Arvind is working with over 1000 small and marginal farmers in the Vidharb region of Maharashtra to grow organic cotton, without the use of any chemical inputs. The relationship works on the contract-farming model, wherein Arvind provides the farmers know-how on organic farming, and a guarantee to buy back the cotton produced directly from the farmer. A dedicated team of Arvindís organic farming experts provides constant technical support for farmers in the form of weekly consultation visits, practical demonstration of composting and organic pest management methods, and village-level training programmes on all aspects of organic farming. In non-irrigated farmland of Vidharb, which has poor quality soils, organic practices do not lead to any drop in yield. The farmers can thus avail of the full benefits arising from a premium paid to them for conversion to organic farming practices, a reduction in input cost by obviating the need for chemicals, liquidity brought in by Arvindís 7-day payment schedule, an enhanced knowledge base and the elimination of the exploitative practices of middlemen. Arvind, in return, gets an assured source of high quality organic cotton. Not only is the project mutually beneficial to both Arvind and the farmers, but is also a scalable model that ensures the congruence of economic and environmental interests.