Research shows that organic agriculture is a good option for food security… and [is] more sustainable in the long term” United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Time to Make A Change
Organic agriculture is a sustainable and environmentally friendly production system that offers developing countries a wide range of economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits. Around one in eight people in the world suffer from chronic hunger, 98% of whom live in developing countries2. These countries are also home to 99% of the world’s cotton farmers3 – indicating a clear need for methods of cotton production that better promote food. Organic Agriculture depends on five capital assets for success (natural, social, human, physical and financial) and so contributes to and builds up stocks of these natural, social and economic resources over time thus often reducing many of the factors that lead to food insecurity.
Organic farming works in harmony with nature rather than against it. Instead of chemical inputs, organic cotton farmers use a range of natural techniques to maintain healthy soils and restrict pests, weeds and diseases. Central to this is the growth of a range of food crops alongside cotton – each contributing specific functions within the organic system whilst also promoting food security.
Contrary to common belief, organic cotton production is economically competitive with its conventional counterpart. A long-term study in India recently revealed that, despite lower average yields, net profits of organic cotton systems are in fact similar, or sometimes better, than those of conventional systems due to the significantly reduced input costs.
Below illustration shows the association between organic cotton and food security, due to the significantly reduced input costs. FOOD SECURITY:
Benefits of growing Organic Cotton:
Cotton grown organically employs the ecological processes of nature to maintain, for the longer term, soil fertility, insects and microbes in balance, thereby reducing pest outbreaks, and encourages species biodiversity. A good understanding of ecosystems and farming techniques is necessary.
Cotton grown organically encourages the planting of food crops, often food staples and those in demand locally, as part of a farm system. Organic produce often has higher levels of dry weight and nutrition.
Cotton grown organically is more resilient to climatic stresses such as drought and floods. Organic crops are also thought to be ‘less thirsty’ (than crops dependent on NPK fertilizers and genetic engineered plants). Yields can be higher than conventional cropping when unfavorable weather situations occur, and input costs significantly less.
Cotton grown organically brings job satisfaction to people lives: it is inclusive and ‘female-friendly’. Pesticide spraying for example is considered men’s work due to the hazards of use, and is a lonely occupation but organic is a community affair said to be favored by women. Organic is labor intensive (at times) which provides employment for rural communities.
Benefits of growing organic cotton are countless and can bring huge impact to heal planet earth. It’s time for consumers to make a change and start asking for organic cotton made clothes. Consumer has an ultimate power to drive the market, which can go long way. Let’s show that we can wisely use consumer power and help small farming communities to feed their families and help our earth to keep feeding us naturally and organically. Let’s protect planet Earth for the generations to come.
Agro-Ecological chart courtesy: http://farmhub.textileexchange.org