The Milliner Cotton Organic project between supplier Artistic Milliners, more than 2,000 farmers and brands and retailers, secures farm-to-fashion traceability and works in a direct-to-farm approach that focuses on more than securing the supply of cotton: through farmer trainings and improved livelihoods, the approach benefits the entire community.
The project was started a year ago and the first crops from organic farms in Kohlu, Balochiston, are now being harvested. The Kohlu output has already passed the stringent requirements set by the Control Union to be certified as in-conversion cotton, the cotton grown during the up to three-year transition period from conventional to certified organic farming. Danish fashion group Bestseller A/S and its brand Jack & Jones will be among the first to use this harvest in their denim collection for December 2022.
Jack & Jones starts with 200,000 jeans
“We are continuously looking at how to improve and innovate sustainability and transparency within our jeans. This project fits our mindset extremely well and is just the beginning of a more transparent and holistic supply chain. We expect to be able to produce 200,000 jeans from the first harvest, and then increase the coming seasons,” said Mikkel Hochrein Albrektsen, creative buying manager at Jack & Jones, in a statement.
“This is truly an amazing result so early in the project. We can really see how important it is to focus on a direct-to-farm approach that ultimately aims to take cotton production to the next level. Not only when it comes to traceability and access to organic cotton, but making the livelihoods and well-being of farmers and their communities just as important. It is definitely not easy, but it is the way forward,” added Danique Lodewijks, senior project specialist, Bestseller Sustainability.
Farmers report better results
The participating farmers have been taught about organic cotton farming as well as organic pesticides preparation methods. As a result, their cotton yields are better as well as subsequently planted crops.
“With help from WWF and field facilitators who visited my farm weekly, I was supported through the whole journey from sowing to harvest. My yield improved significantly compared to the past years and at the same time, organic cotton is eco-friendly and beneficial for our health. After the cotton harvest I planted wheat, and my land is giving yields better than ever,” confirms farmer Haji Bangul from Kohlu whose family has been farming for generations.
The direct-to-farm sourcing model helps to create a secure market and a premium payment for the farmers. This way, it is also possible to know where the raw materials come from and the communities that grow it, what impact the investment has, and how the pre-financing of seeds has helped.
“This season's harvest is the first of many to come from the Milliner Cotton Organic project. As I said before, this will be a game changer in the cotton industry of Pakistan. We are here to bridge the gap between organic cotton supply and demand for our long-standing brand partner Bestseller,” says Artistic Milliners CEO Omer Ahmed.
The project aims to transition from Milliner Cotton Organic to the OCA FED (Farmers Engagement and Development) Programme. OCA is a multi-stakeholder organisation fully dedicated to organic cotton.