An Overview of Organic Cotton
Md. Mehedi Hasan Shibli
Department of Textile Engineering
Northern University Bangladesh
Organic cotton is generally understood as cotton and is grown in subtropical countries such as Turkey, China, USA from non genetically modified plants, that is to be grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural toxic chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators and synthetic fertilizers that can be absorbed easily when in contact with the user’s skin. Its production also promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles. Organic cotton is also known as green cotton, environmentally friendly cotton or biological cotton.
Production of Organic Cotton
Production requirements are specifically the set of changes that must be made to field and farming practices in order for a crop to be considered organic. To begin with, organic fields must go through a cleansing period of three years, without the use of any prohibited substances, before planting the first organic crop. Fields must also be equipped with physical barriers and buzzers in order to prevent contact of organic crops with any chemical substance product of surface runoff from crops nearby. Producers must also strive to promote soil fertility through cultivation practices while maintaining or improving the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the soil and minimizes soil erosion. Organic growers must also implement practices to support biodiversity. Such practices include integrated pest management (IPM), which consists of the manipulation of ecosystems that benefit both the crops and the organisms that live around it. In addition to these practices, producers may only apply crop nutrients and soil amendments included on the National List of synthetic substances allowed in crop production.
Organic cotton is currently being grown successfully in many countries; the largest producers (as of 2007) are Turkey, India and China.
Organic cottons production in Africa takes place in at least 8 countries. The earliest producer (1990) was the SEKEM organization in Egypt; the farmers involved later convinced the Egyptian government to convert 400,000 hectares of conventional cotton production to integrated methods, achieving a 90% reduction in the use of synthetic pesticides in Egypt and a 30% increase in yields.
With each year more and more companies like Nike, Wal-Mart, and even C&A (a European Fashion distributor) have made the jump from conventional farming of cottons to organic. As of 2011, China, the U.S., India, Pakistan, Brazil, Turkey, Greece, Australia, Syria, Mali, and Egypt are all producing organic cottons. With this rise in demand from 2007 to 2011 more and more countries are making the switch.
Advantages and Benefits of Organic Cotton
Organic cotton shows great advantages and benefits at various levels of the value chain.
Farmers, traders, retailers and consumers all benefit from the economic, social and ecological advantages of organic cottons projects. Click on the buildings to see the benefits for each group:
Instead of these benefits, organic cotton still only occupies a tiny niche of far less than 1% of global cotton production. However, the number of farms converting to organic cotton and the number of projects is constantly increasing. Besides the naturally soft organic cotton fabric is a lot more comfortable to use and is used in organic mattresses and is available at competitive prices.
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.