Lindex has announced it is backing a project to help Indian female cotton growers convert to organic farming.
The fashion retailer said it was contributing financing to the Women in Cotton programme by CottonConnect, an industry enterprise, that seeks to increase organic and sustainable cotton production.
Currently Lindex’s cotton is 68% organic but this programme will help towards its commitment for 100% of cotton to come from sustainable sources by 2025.
Organic cotton is more sustainable because it is grown without artificial fertilizers, chemical pesticides or genetically modified cotton seeds, and it improves soil quality, reduces water usage and prevents exposure to toxic chemicals, said Lindex.
The two-year programme will train 350 women from tribal areas in India in sustainable, organic farming practices, business management, health and labour rights, and connect them with markets.
The farmers are in the process of transitioning to organic methods which takes many years, said Lindex.
Anna-Karin Dahlberg, sustainability manager at Lindex, said: "As one of the world's largest buyers of organic cotton, we are working to further increase the supply of organic cotton, while at the same time continuing the important work of strengthening women.”
Organic farming uses 91% less water and 62% less energy than conventional farming and improves the safety of farming communities, according to CottonConnect.
A report by CottonConnect on challenges women face in cotton production found that women across countries generally report having little or no training in agricultural best practice, and that without specific outreach efforts only 4% join training programmes.
Alison Ward, CEO at CottonConnect, said: "Our partnership with Lindex seeks to transform the organic cotton sector not only by increasing the volumes of organic cotton and by working with women who are often neglected in training programmes, but also, and very importantly, by creating a direct link between the farm community and the brand. We believe this is essential if we are to truly change cotton supply chains."
CottonConnect is an enterprise, founded by the C&A Foundation, the Shell Foundation and non profit Textile Exchange, that supports brands to improve cotton supply chains. It has also worked with retailers John Lewis, Primark and luxury group Kering.
Lindex is also part of the Better Cotton Initiative, which helps convert farmers to more “socially and economically sustainable, cultivation methods”. Its baby range is already 100% organic cotton and Global Organic Textile Standard certified.
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