The certification of Pakistan’s first organic cotton bale has been the major breakthrough event in the country’s cotton sector, marking the first step towards the potential development of an organic cotton supply chain in the South Asian country.
WWF-Pakistan with funding support from C&A foundation has been working with Baluchistan’s Directorate of Agriculture Extension since 2015 on a programme to promote organic cotton cultivation amongst small and marginal tribal farmers. Through this alliance, around 4000 smallholder farmers have been trained and are now able to see the fruits of their labour.
Cotton and Cotton products contribute about 10 per cent to GDP and 55 per cent to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Also 30 to 40 per cent of cotton is consumed domestically as final products whereas the remainder is exported as raw cotton, yarn, cloth and garments.
It is worth noting that Organic cotton is grown without using any chemical fertilisers or pesticides and is cultivated on land that is detoxified from residues of chemical fertilisers and pesticides over a period of at least three years. Furthermore, the seeds that are used to grow organic cotton are not genetically modified and are kept clean from chemical impurities during processing and packaging. If the cotton crop produced adheres to the standards of organic cotton farming in its initial two years it is known as in conversion cotton. By the third year the yield is certified as organic cotton.