Consumers and companies across the planet are increasingly choosing cotton produced in accordance with voluntary sustainability standards such as Better Cotton or Cotton made in Africa. So says the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
Standards-compliant cotton production has doubled every 2.5 years, on an average, since 2008 and though most of the demand is coming from Europe and North America awareness is rising in big developing and emerging markets that suggests the growth will continue.
Farmers in some regions, says IISD, can receive up to 50 per cent higher prices and 20 per cent higher crop incomes for growing standards-compliant cotton compared to conventional cotton. Sustainable cotton is in high demand as customers look to make responsible purchasing decisions and brands use sustainability to differentiate their products in the market. Sustainability standards can help address the environmental and social effects linked to conventional cotton production including water scarcity, soil and water contamination from pesticide runoff, forced labour, and poor working conditions.
Adhering to sustainability standards can affect cotton prices and income received by cotton farmers.Prices and incomes are important because many smallholder cotton farmers live below the poverty line in developing countries. And now the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have forced these struggling farmers to cope with rising input costs, reduced yields, and unpredictable price swings.