A women working in a cotton field in India. © Primark
A women working in a cotton field in India. © Primark

Primark extends cotton programme to 10,000 female farmers

Primark has extended a sustainable cotton initiative in India to 10,000 women farmers.

Under the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme, women in Gujarat, India are trained to improve cotton yields, increase their incomes and introduce sustainable farming methods.

A pilot, launched three years ago, saw 1,251 women smallholders increase their average profits by 211% and yields by 12.6%. There was also a 5% cut in input costs, a 12.9% reduction in water use and fertilizer and pesticide use fell.

Today, to coincide with International Women’s Day, the retailer has announced the programme will be extended by six years to an additional 10,000 women.

The initiative involves a partnership between Primark, CottonConnect and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

Paul Lister, who is responsible for Primark’s ethical trading team, said: “Primark has been working hard for the last decade to ensure that the rights of workers within our global supply chain are respected, and the lives of people working within the garment industry in emerging markets change as industrialisation brings new jobs and opportunities.

“The Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme started with a desire to develop a project that would improve sustainable cotton production and make a meaningful difference for cotton farmers.”

Primark said according to the United Nations, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30%. A further study by the Global Development Institute in 2013 found that with higher incomes, women are more likely than men to support household welfare and children’s education.

Alison Ward, CottonConnect’s CEO, said: “We find that women do not attend mixed training sessions, so the knowledge that this programme has brought them will go a long way to building a better life for them and their families in the future. It’s also great to see how proud their husbands are of their work.”

Reema Nanavaty, leader of SEWA, said: “Giving women access to full employment is one of the best ways to drive societal and economic change. We’ve seen women invest their increased income back into their families – whether that’s sending their children to school, improving their living conditions or buying and cooking more nutritious food.

“Through this programme we’ve been able to make a material difference to people’s lives and we’re looking forward to reaching even more women over the next six years.” 

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