Article

Potential and limitations of organic and fair trade cotton for improving livelihoods of smallholders: Evidence from Central Asia

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  • Wyss Academy for Nature
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Abstract

Cotton is a leading agricultural non-food commodity associated with soil degradation, water pollution and pesticide poisoning due to high levels of agrochemical inputs. Organic farming is often promoted as a means of addressing the economic, environmental and health risks of conventional cotton production, and it is slowly gaining ground in the global cotton market. Organic and fair trade cotton are widely seen as opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods thanks to higher returns, lower input costs and fewer risks. Despite an increasing number of studies comparing the profitability of organic and non-organic farming systems in developing and industrialized countries, little has been published on organic farming in Central Asia. The aim of this article is to describe the economic performance and perceived social and environmental impacts of organic cotton in southern Kyrgyzstan, drawing on a comparative field study conducted by the author in 2009. In addition to economic and environmental aspects, the study investigated farmers’ motivations toward and assessment of conversion to organic farming. Cotton yields on organic farms were found to be 10% lower, while input costs per unit were 42% lower; as a result, organic farmers’ cotton revenues were 20% higher. Due to lower input costs as well as organic and fair trade price premiums, the average gross margin from organic cotton was 27% higher. In addition to direct economic benefits, organic farmers enjoy other benefits, such as easy access to credit on favorable terms, provision of uncontaminated cottonseed cooking oil and cottonseed cake as animal feed, and marketing support as well as extension and training services provided by newly established organic service providers. The majority of organic farmers perceive improved soil quality, improved health conditions, and positively assess their initial decision to convert to organic farming. The major disadvantage of organic farming is the high manual labor input required. In the study area, where manual farm work is mainly women's work and male labor migration is widespread, women are most affected by this negative aspect of organic farming. Altogether, the results suggest that, despite the inconvenience of a higher workload, the advantages of organic farming outweigh its disadvantages and that conversion to organic farming improves the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

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... However, most of the data has been obtained from trials in the temperate zones [20][21][22][23][24][25][26]. The little data available under tropical and subtropical conditions [9,[27][28][29] calls for more long-term farming systems comparison trials to provide a better basis for decision making in these regions [17]. To address this issue, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) has set up three farming systems comparison trials in Kenya, India and Bolivia, thereby encompassing different cropping systems and ethnologies. ...
... India is the second largest producer (after China) of cotton lint worldwide [30]. Cotton is a very important cash crop for smallholder farmers, but also one of the most exigent crops in terms of agrochemical inputs which are responsible for adverse effects on human health and the environment [27]. Genetically modified (GM) cotton hybrids carrying a gene of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for protection against bollworm (Helicoverpa spp.) attack, have spread rapidly after their official introduction to India in 2002 [31,32]. ...
... Organic cotton production systems -holding a minor percentage of the cotton growing area in India -are often neglected, and little information exists on the productivity and profitability of organic farming in India [53]. However, organic cotton production is slowly gaining momentum in the global cotton market [27]. GM cultivars are not compatible with the guidelines of organic agriculture [54]. ...
Article
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The debate on the relative benefits of conventional and organic farming systems has in recent time gained significant interest. So far, global agricultural development has focused on increased productivity rather than on a holistic natural resource management for food security. Thus, developing more sustainable farming practices on a large scale is of utmost importance. However, information concerning the performance of farming systems under organic and conventional management in tropical and subtropical regions is scarce. This study presents agronomic and economic data from the conversion phase (2007-2010) of a farming systems comparison trial on a Vertisol soil in Madhya Pradesh, central India. A cotton-soybean-wheat crop rotation under biodynamic, organic and conventional (with and without Bt cotton) management was investigated. We observed a significant yield gap between organic and conventional farming systems in the 1(st) crop cycle (cycle 1: 2007-2008) for cotton (-29%) and wheat (-27%), whereas in the 2(nd) crop cycle (cycle 2: 2009-2010) cotton and wheat yields were similar in all farming systems due to lower yields in the conventional systems. In contrast, organic soybean (a nitrogen fixing leguminous plant) yields were marginally lower than conventional yields (-1% in cycle 1, -11% in cycle 2). Averaged across all crops, conventional farming systems achieved significantly higher gross margins in cycle 1 (+29%), whereas in cycle 2 gross margins in organic farming systems were significantly higher (+25%) due to lower variable production costs but similar yields. Soybean gross margin was significantly higher in the organic system (+11%) across the four harvest years compared to the conventional systems. Our results suggest that organic soybean production is a viable option for smallholder farmers under the prevailing semi-arid conditions in India. Future research needs to elucidate the long-term productivity and profitability, particularly of cotton and wheat, and the ecological impact of the different farming systems.
... All these issues show the environmental, economic and social dimensions of cotton production. As an alternative, organic cotton cultivation is regarded as one strategy to minimize negative effects for cotton farmers 7 . As organic farming is based on the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care, it covers environmental, economic and social dimensions simultaneously 10 . ...
... Since the late 1980s, different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been promoting organic cotton cultivation in developing countries, due to the potentially positive effects on smallholder farmers 7,15 . In the same time period, there was also growing consumer interest in 'green' and sustainable clothes that triggered an increasing demand for organic cotton, which peaked in 2008 16 . ...
... Socio-economic studies on organic cotton production (in India 6,31 , in Central Asia 7 and parts of Africa 32 ) showed the positive impact of organic cotton production on the livelihood of farmers. In the studies, increased yields, a better income situation as well as empowered and more sustainable communities were observed 6,7,32 . According to Eyhorn et al. 6 the potential positive impacts of organic cultivation can be further increased. ...
Article
In Tanzania, as in many developing countries, cotton is an important source of income for smallholder farmers but also causes various negative effects through high pesticide and intensive land use. To overcome these effects organic agriculture is promoted by different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies. This study examines how organic cotton cultivation influences the livelihood of smallholder farmers in rural Tanzania and focuses on three areas: (1) the motivation to change from conventional to organic farming, (2) experiences and challenges of farmers in the conversion process as well as in the period following the conversion, and (3) the attitude and perceptions of farmers toward organic farming in general. Qualitative interviews with organic farmers in Meatu district in the north of Tanzania, as well as expert interviews, were conducted and observations were made. Results show that although the organic price premium is an important incentive for farmers to convert to organic agriculture, access to training and advisory service are even more important, as no other sufficient agriculture extension service is available in the region. Due to a high level of poverty in the region, environmental motivations for conversion are not in the foreground. Furthermore, the study shows that organic farming can contribute greatly to the improvement of livelihoods in the region (improved soil fertility, increased yields and income, higher standard of living) and increases farmers’ ability to cope with challenges, mainly through knowledge transfer, access to capital and capacity building on a local level. Although positive effects on female farmers were identified, cultural preconditions (e.g., polygamy) harm efforts to strengthen women to a higher degree and gender disparities are still challenging. Further social problems (i.e., high birth rates, a poor education system and a lack of health care), global trading schemes as well as environmental factors (i.e., water scarcity and extreme weather events) cannot be fully offset by the conversion to organic cotton cultivation. Farmers in the Meatu region profit to a high degree from organic agriculture, mainly due to access to knowledge and extension services, nevertheless important challenges remain for farmers and their families.
... These inputs are substituted with different agricultural practices, such as intercropping, crop rotation, use of compost and FYM (farmyard manure) (Jawtusch et al., 2011). Following this reasoning, several NGOs have been promoting organic cotton production in developing countries since the late 1980s (Eyhorn, 2007;Bachmann, 2012). According to Textile Exchange (2016), in 2014/2015, organic cotton was grown in approximately 20 different countries, but still accounted for only around 0.45% of global cotton production. ...
... India was the largest producer of organic cotton (see Table 1), grown by around 157,700 certified organic farmers, producing 75,200 t organic cotton fiber, accounting for 67% of the world's total organic cotton (Textile Exchange, 2016). Although India is the largest organic cotton producer worldwide, on the national level, only around 276,700 ha out of a total of 12,850,000 ha of harvested cotton fields were under organic cultivation in (USDA, 2016, Textile Exchange, 2016.In India, several research studies on organic cotton revealed lower production costs and higher gross margins (Eyhorn et al., 2005a, decreasing yields during the transition period from conventional to organic cultivation Panneerselvam et al., 2012), and increasing workloads for the farmers (Bachmann, 2012). So far, the scientific research on the impacts of organic cotton production has not been placed in a broader context, including the social dimension and the farmers' perspective, as well as economic and environmental perspectives. ...
... Man OBC (7). The reduction of production costs was also observed in previous studies on the introduction of organic farming practices in cotton production in India (Eyhorn et al., 2005a;Panneerselvam et al., 2012) and other world regions (Bachmann, 2012;Altenbuchner et al., 2014). ...
Article
Cotton is an important source of income for smallholder farmers in India, usually grown very intensively. To counteract negative impacts of cotton cultivation in India, such as environmental degradation and financial dependency due to high input costs, organic cotton cultivation is being promoted by non-governmental organizations in the country. This study examines how the conversion to organic cotton cultivation influences the livelihood of smallholder farmers in rural India. Interviews with organic farmers were conducted in Odisha, India, complemented by expert interviews and observations in the field. Results show that farmers profit from organic agriculture, mainly due to soil improvements, through reduced exposure to toxic chemicals and lower input costs, which in turn reduces dependency on money lenders. Organic agriculture enables smallholder farmers in the study region to improve their livelihood by providing access to training and by organizing in groups. Important social impacts identified in this study were capacity building and strengthened communities, through training and institution building. However, a higher workload, due to the higher work intensity of organic farming practices, was also observed, with this impacting women more than men. Environmental conditions and gender aspects still remain challenging.
... S1) (16)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23). A study importantly reveals that the Eco-natural food produced in India reveals an average production gap of about 20% (22,41). However, the impact or intensity of this is different for different types of agricultural produces and the types of crop management being used (Table 1) (16)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)]. It has been observed that the different practices lead to a range of gaps in the organic production viz. ...
... The rewards of Eco-natural management for biodiversity of wildlife on farmland are clear across different taxa (40,41). ...
... The formation of soil and soil nutrient cycling are important supporting services for food generation (22,29). Soil decadence and soil erosion, which affect large areas of land today because of the intensive use of croplands and rangelands, threaten current and future food generation and are a key sustainability challenge for organic farming (38)(39)(40)(41)(42).Studies have also typically found reduced soil erosion from Eco-natural farms due to improved soil structure (43)(44)(45). Despite these generally positive impacts of Eco-natural management on soil parameters, the soil fauna is not seen the same way (40,42), but it is more abundant in Eco-naturally managed soils (46)(47)(48)(49)(50)(51). ...
... The use of preapproved pesticides or herbicides and responsible soil and water management practices can, in turn, result in improvements in cotton yields as well as replenished water reserves and regenerated soil. These improvements can then lead to an increase in farm income, increased take-up of sustainable water and soil conservation techniques, improved status of women, and improved health of the households practicing sustainable farming (Altenbuchner et al., 2014;Altenbuchner, et al., 2017;Bachmann, 2011;Eyhorn et al., 2005). However, achieving these outcomes requires sufficient knowledge of farmers about the benefits of adopting organic farming practices or farming practices recommended by BCI and sufficient incentives to adopt these practices. ...
... Evidence from the literature also suggests that despite lower input costs, organic cotton farmers obtain yields on par with those of conventional cotton farmers and produce crops with prices that are almost 20% higher (Altenbuchner et al., 2017;Bachmann, 2011;Eyhorn et al., 2005). An ongoing study in Kurnool, India has been designed to rigorously estimate the impact of the BCI standard. ...
... In 2014, cotton accounted for 16.1 percent of global insecticide usage and 5.7 percent of global pesticide consumption (Pesticide Action Network UK, 2017). Across a variety of correlational studies, in India, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania, cotton farmers report improved health conditions associated with reduced exposure to hazardous agrochemicals in organic farming (Altenbuchner et al., 2014;Altenbuchner, et al., 2017;Bachmann, 2011;Eyhorn et al., 2005). ...
Technical Report
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American Institutes for Research (AIR) and its partner Outline India designed and implemented a social impact assessment on the characteristics of 1) organic cotton farmers, 2) cotton farmers licensed by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and 3) conventional cotton farmers in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, India. For this assessment, we used a survey with a large sample of 3,628 households to draw comparisons in socio-economic outcomes between 1) organic cotton farmers and conventional cotton farmers and 2) cotton farmers licensed by BCI and conventional cotton farmers. The statistically representative sample allowed for drawing conclusions on the characteristics of these farmers across a wide range of outcome measures and other observable characteristics. We also conducted qualitative research to understand the experiences of organic cotton farmers, farmers licensed by BCI, and conventional cotton farmers in the same region. Triangulating the results of the qualitative research with the findings from the representative sample enabled AIR and Outline India to draw conclusions on the socio-economic outcomes of organic cotton farmers, cotton farmers licensed by BCI, and conventional cotton farmers and to examine why cotton farmers do or do not adopt organic farming practices and cotton farming practices recommended by BCI. In addition to this study, Thinkstep India conducted an environmental impact assessment of cotton farming by implementing a screening Life Cycle Assessment in line with the principles of the ISO 14040/44.
... Cotton prices are usually low and fluctuating, payment is often insecure, and input costs are high (Eyhorn et al., 2005). Along with high costs, agro-inputs-extensively applied in conventional cotton production-cause environmental degradation and health problems in farming communities (Bachmann, 2012). Certified organic cotton initiatives (COCIs) promise to minimize negative effects for cotton farmers and their communities (Bachmann, 2012), and numerous organic cotton initiatives have been established in different world regions 1 . ...
... Along with high costs, agro-inputs-extensively applied in conventional cotton production-cause environmental degradation and health problems in farming communities (Bachmann, 2012). Certified organic cotton initiatives (COCIs) promise to minimize negative effects for cotton farmers and their communities (Bachmann, 2012), and numerous organic cotton initiatives have been established in different world regions 1 . ...
... Various studies (Eyhorn et al., 2005Eyhorn, 2007;Méndez et al., 2010;Bachmann, 2012;Makita, 2012;Panneerselvam et al., 2012;Altenbuchner et al., 2014;Altenbuchner et al., 2017) support this claim and show multiple benefits of a transition to organic cotton farming on the household level. However, the effects of such a transition on farming communities are quite unclear, as are the community-wide effects. ...
Article
This paper examines how certified organic cotton initiatives (COCIs) influence community capitals in rural Peru, Tanzania and India using the community capitals framework (CCF). Case study analyses, including qualitative interviews of farmers, expert interviews and participatory observations, were conducted in Northern Peru, Northern Tanzania and Eastern India. The results show slight changes in community capitals in Peru, while comprehensive changes and spiraling-up effects were triggered by certified organic cotton farming initiatives in Tanzania and India. These community developments strongly depended on set measures, such as the extent of (1) partnership (e.g., contract farming), (2) input support (e.g., seeds, loans, community infrastructure), (3) capacity building (through training and advisory services), (4) group formation and (5) formation of cooperatives. Favorable environmental conditions and supporting local institutions facilitated spiraling-up effects, while social preconditions (e.g., gender inequality) strongly limited these effects. The research showed that COCIs have considerable potential to trigger spiraling-up effects in rural communities. However, the capacity strongly depends on the respective initiative and its ability to involve and empower farmers, i.e., to build up human and social capital.
... The use of pre-approved pesticides or herbicides and responsible soil and water management practices can, in turn, result in improvements in cotton yields as well as replenished water reserves and regenerated soil. These improvements can then lead to an increase in farm income, increased take-up of sustainable water and soil conservation techniques, improved status of women, and improved health of the households practicing sustainable farming (Altenbuchner et al., 2014;Altenbuchner, et al., 2017;Bachmann, 2011;Eyhorn et al., 2005). However, achieving these outcomes requires sufficient knowledge of farmers about the benefits of adopting organic farming practices or farming practices recommended by BCI and sufficient incentives to adopt these practices. ...
... In 2014, cotton accounted for 16.1 percent of global insecticide usage and 5.7 percent of global pesticide consumption (Pesticide Action Network UK, 2017). Across a variety of correlational studies, in India, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania, cotton farmers report improved health conditions associated with reduced exposure to hazardous agrochemicals in organic farming (Altenbuchner et al., 2014;Altenbuchner, et al., 2017;Bachmann, 2011;Eyhorn et al., 2005). ...
... Evidence from the literature also suggests that despite lower input costs, organic cotton farmers obtain yields on par with those of conventional cotton farmers and produce crops with prices that are almost 20% higher (Altenbuchner et al., 2017;Bachmann, 2011;Eyhorn et al., 2005). An ongoing study in Kurnool, India has been designed to rigorously estimate the impact of the BCI standard. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
American Institutes for Research (AIR) and its partner Outline India designed and implemented a social impact assessment on the characteristics of 1) organic cotton farmers, 2) cotton farmers licensed by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and 3) conventional cotton farmers in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, India. For this assessment, we used a survey with a large sample of 3,628 households to draw comparisons in socio-economic outcomes between 1) organic cotton farmers and conventional cotton farmers and 2) cotton farmers licensed by BCI and conventional cotton farmers. The statistically representative sample allowed for drawing conclusions on the characteristics of these farmers across a wide range of outcome measures and other observable characteristics. We also conducted qualitative research to understand the experiences of organic cotton farmers, farmers licensed by BCI,
... This finding is not surprising, given that original studies also provide conflicting evidence in terms of yield effects. While some studies suggest that certification-through the providing of inputs, training, credits-helps farmers increase productivity (Bachmann, 2012;Bacon, 2010;Vagneron and Roquigny, 2011), others suggest that the restriction of modern inputs reduces productivity (Beuchelt and Zeller, 2013;Mitiku et al., 2017). The later especially holds for Organic standards. ...
... Overall effects vary between −10% (median, Fig. 1) and +11% (mean, Figure A1), mirroring previous results. While some studies suggest that certification involves higher production costs (Bachmann, 2012;Zeller, 2013, 2013;Valkila, 2009), others find no differences (Akoyi and Maertens, 2017;Eyhorn et al., 2007;Oelofse et al., 2010). Fig. 2 suggests that such differences are largely driven by Organic standards. ...
Article
Several studies have analyzed whether sustainability standards—such as Fairtrade or Organic—deliver on their promise to benefit smallholder farmers in developing countries, with mixed results. We conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to consolidate results from 97 original studies. We place a focus on economic effects of sustainability standards and outcome variables that are frequently considered in quantitative studies, including output prices, yields, production costs, farmer profits, and household income. Results suggest that farmers certified under a sustainability standard receive 20–30% higher prices than their non-certified counterparts. Effects of standards on production costs and yields are mixed and vary across standards. Certified farmers gain higher profits, leading to an overall increase in household incomes through standards by 16–22%. Yet substantial heterogeneity exists, which is only partly attributable to observed factors that vary across studies (such as the type of product, standard, or region). Our findings suggest that more context-specific factors—such as the organization of supply chains—play a more decisive role. Based on a critical review of the sampling strategies and methods employed in the original studies, we discuss the generalizability of our findings and derive directions for policy and future research.
... But there are also some examples of studies from other parts of the world, e.g. Tanzania (Altenbuchner et al., 2014), Mali (Nelson and Smith, 2011), Burkina Faso (Bassett, 2010), Senegal (Nelson and Smith, 2011), Cameroon (Nelson and Smith, 2011), Kyrgyzstan (Bachmann, 2011), Turkey Olgun, 2010, 2012), Uzbekistan (Franz et al., 2010), and Paraguay (Martin et al., 2010). Studies from Africa more often focus on organic cotton together with Fairtrade cotton that is often combined with organic production. ...
... The low premium prices, lack of conversion support, and dim possibility of achieving long-term contracts do not compensate for the high production costs and risks related to organic cotton cultivation in terms of, for example, production variability. Bachmann (2011) found a completely different situation in Kyrgyzstan, where despite 10% lower yields, much lower input costs in combination with organic and Fairtrade premiums led to 27% higher average gross margin from organic cotton cultivation. In Paraguay, organic cotton production is well established and yields seem comparable, although Martin et al. (2010) found that continued reliance on conventional industry for seeds; difficult certification processes; and problems with logistics, marketing, and payment make it difficult for farmers to obtain premium prices. ...
Chapter
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This paper addresses the effects of OA in terms of income and of poverty alleviation in rural areas in developing countries. The central questions are: What is the status of OA today? Does it provide the expected premium prices and benefits? Does it contribute in raising the standards of living of farmers living in poverty? What are the most important entry barriers and problems related to OA? What are its development prospects? The paper is based on an extensive inventory and review of data and literature. Although this analysis focuses on two value chains – cotton and coffee – the project also includes other products such as cocoa and oilseed, The two value chains are selected because they involve smallholders in marginal rural areas in developing countries, their market in Europe is a major buyer, and they represent different patterns in terms of value chains, geographical importance, and development of different certification schemes Several different certification schemes exist for both crops. Many of the studies evaluating the effects of certification amongst smallholders are focused on both organic and other types of certifications.
... Resilience (88) Autonomy (82,83,87) Other benefits (84,92) Farmer and farm worker health Low pesticide exposure (69,70,94,95) Farm worker livelihood Farm wages (93,96) Labor conditions (93,96) Consumer access Low consumer prices (109,111) per unit farm area but higher water use per unit output as a result of lower yields on organic farms. In other words, while improved soil quality from organic management provides some advantages for water management, lower organic yields implies unclear impact per unit output. ...
... Because of the lower use of pesticides in organic agriculture (see discussion under "Water quality"), it is very likely that pesticide exposure is lower on organic farms (Table 2), and this could be one of the most important advantages of organic management for farm workers, particularly in crops (such as fruits and vegetables) with typically high pesticide application rates, as well as in regions with weak pesticide regulations, such as India (Table 1) (67). Organic farmers in low-income countries often report reduced health risks from pesticide exposure as one of their key motivations for adopting organic agriculture (94,95). ...
Article
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Organic agriculture is often proposed as a more sustainable alternative to current conventional agriculture. We assess the current understanding of the costs and benefits of organic agriculture across multiple production, environmental, producer, and consumer dimensions. Organic agriculture shows many potential benefits (including higher biodiversity and improved soil and water quality per unit area, enhanced profitability, and higher nutritional value) as well as many potential costs including lower yields and higher consumer prices. However, numerous important dimensions have high uncertainty, particularly the environmental performance when controlling for lower organic yields, but also yield stability, soil erosion, water use, and labor conditions. We identify conditions that influence the relative performance of organic systems, highlighting areas for increased research and policy support.
... Organic and fair-trade cotton, are widely seen as opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods thanks to higher returns, lower input costs and fewer risks [51]. The majority of organic farmers perceives improved soil quality, improved health conditions, and positively assess their initial decision to convert to organic farming [52]. Organic farming has also been shown to make land easier to plough and retain water, helping crops to sustain periods of drought better [1]. ...
... Organic farming has also been shown to make land easier to plough and retain water, helping crops to sustain periods of drought better [1]. Despite that, the major disadvantage of organic farming is the high manual labor input required [52]. ...
Article
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As sustainability is becoming an important topic for both agriculture and the textile sector, there is an increasing market demand for plant-based fibers production. Diversified farming systems, such as agroforestry, have received considerable attention for their potential to contribute to more environmentally sustainable and socially just agricultural methods, that offers a smart use of water and soil nutrition. They can be a direction for rural development through contributions in agrobiodiversity, livelihood diversity, labor availability and economic growth. They are currently being promoted in many regions to contribute for food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation. In this study, the research methodology was based on a systematic literature review and secondary data collection and analyses. The aim was to investigate initiatives towards sustainable textile fibers cropping, including different species and plantation methods. The results indicate few cases worldwide and suggest cotton as the main experimented specie, generally cultivated with two other ones. They were identify three methods applied in cotton crops: (1) crop rotation, (2) agroecological intercropping and (3) agroforestry. Results also demonstrates different production challenges, concerning machinery development to mixture crops, ideal species groups, economic viability and process scalability. Forest management methods that can sustain good mixes of tree species need to be designed, promoting rich agrobiodiversity landscapes. Thus, defining, measuring and rewarding good farming practices are the main possible drivers to motivate farmers to change to new approaches towards sustainability in textile fiber production. Further investigation is demanded to evaluate different species possibilities and cropping maintenance, as well as addressing public policies and coordinating stakeholders interests.
... Currently, 22 countries worldwide grow organic cotton, which represents 0.76% of global cotton production (Organic Trade Association, 2010). While organic cotton production has numerous positive aspects, such as improving soil quality and reducing agronomic, environmental, and health risks, limitations include high manual labor input and production costs (Bachmann, 2012). ...
Article
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In recent years, consumers have begun showing an increased interest in environmentally friendly fibers along with growing concerns about environmental problems. This trend encourages the development and use of fibers from renewable sources as substitutes for petroleum-based synthetic fibers in the textile and apparel industry. Though renewable fibers have already been used for many purposes and will become an important element of the apparel industry, there lacks the objective performance evaluation of fabrics made with renewable sourced fibers. This study evaluated comfort and sensorial performance of knit fabrics for young children's clothing made with renewable fibers. In this research, organic cotton, bamboo viscose blended, and soybean blended fabrics with jersey, French terry and 1x1 rib knit structures were investigated. Effects from fabric thickness, fiber content, and knit structure on comfort and sensorial performance were assessed. Appropriate fabric choices for different apparel applications were also suggested.
... The productivity of cotton is limited by the following external factors: Scale of production, level of research support, local ginning capacity, access to quality seed, access to irrigation, access to timely inputs, production costs, price paid for seed cotton, access to credit, timely payment for the crop and availability of season-long farmer training (Page and Ritchie, 2009). The biggest sustainability challenge in conventional cotton production remains the need for high inputs of agrochemicals, many of which are known for their adverse effects on human health and potential harm to the environment (Page and Ritchie, 2009;Bachmann, 2012). Since most of the cotton produced in India is grown by smallholder, subsistence farmers usually with land holdings of less than one hectare, capital intensive high input farming is not the most suited choice for them. ...
Article
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Organic agriculture is one of the most widely known alternative production systems advocated for its benefits to soil, environment, health and economic well-being of farming communities. Rapid increase in the market demand for organic products presents a remarkable opportunity for expansion of organic agriculture. A thorough understanding of the context specific motivations of farmers for adoption of organic farming systems is important so that appropriate policy measures are put in place. With an aim of understanding the social and biophysical motivations of organic and conventional cotton farmers for following their respective farming practices, a detailed farm survey was conducted in Nimar valley of Madhya Pradesh state in central India. The study area was chosen for being an important region for cotton production, where established organic and conventional farms operate under comparable circumstances. We found considerable variation among organic and conventional farmers for their social and biophysical motivations. Organic farmers were motivated by the sustainability of cotton production and growing safer food without pesticides, whereas conventional farmers were sensitive about their reputation in community. Organic farmers with larger holdings were more concerned about closed nutrient cycles and reducing their dependence on external inputs, whereas medium and small holding organic farmers were clearly motivated by the premium price of organic cotton. Higher productivity was the only important motivation for conventional farmers with larger land holdings. We also found considerable yield gaps among different farms, both under conventional and organic management, that need to be addressed through extension and training. Our findings suggest that research and policy measures need to be directed toward strengthening of extension services, local capacity building, enhancing availability of suitable inputs and market access for organic farmers.
... Why White Gold? Cotton (Gossypium spp.), also known as "White Gold," is not only the most important fiber plant for the production of textiles, but also one of the most intensive crops in terms of pesticide use worldwide (Bachmann, 2012). That's why the genetically modified Bt cotton was developed, which gives protection against the most important cotton pests: the bollworms (Helicoverpa spp.). ...
... All Central Asian producers have higher average yields than India, and this despite relatively low levels of chemical pesticide use. Experimental evidence from Central Asia suggests that yield levels do not decrease significantly even when avoiding chemical insecticides completely [11]. ...
Article
Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton has been widely adopted, notably by smallholder farmers in developing countries. However, it has not been used in Central Asia, an important cotton-producing region. We discuss possible reasons and hypothesize that the most likely explanation is limited local demand for Bt owing to low levels of pest infestation. This would imply that global Bt cotton adoption rates may already be close to 100% when considering real demand for insect-resistant varieties.
... incomes) minus the costs of production. Some authors refer to this as profit (Blackmore & Keeley, 2012;Valkila, 2009), others as net income (Christopher M. Bacon, Ernesto Méndez, Gómez, Stuart, & Flores, 2008;Jena et al., 2012), or gross margin (Bachmann, 2012;Beuchelt & Zeller, 2011). Although these studies use the same concept, they show conflicting results. ...
Article
This paper analyses the profitability of palm oil certification through the use of a financial Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) and the assessment of Net Present Value (NPV). Better understanding the investment value of certification adoption can be used by policy makers or certification providers to bring in more smallholders and to make certification more beneficial for the generally vulnerable smallholders. The results indicate that certification is currently profitable for different types of Indonesian palm oil smallholders. The extent to which certification is profitable depends on the smallholder's preconditions. In the self-funded scenario, certification is not profitable for scheme smallholders and only remains profitable for independent smallholders when they continue to receive premium prices. If premium prices are however removed the independent smallholders may need unrealistically high premium fees for certification to remain profitable in this scenario. Next to certification, we found that the organization of farmers around miller companies contributes positively to profit, even before certification takes place. Therefore investing in organization may be an effective form of government involvement.
... Why White Gold? Cotton (Gossypium spp.), also known as "White Gold," is not only the most important fiber plant for the production of textiles, but also one of the most intensive crops in terms of pesticide use worldwide (Bachmann, 2012). That's why the genetically modified Bt cotton was developed, which gives protection against the most important cotton pests: the bollworms (Helicoverpa spp.). ...
... 3 This is due to the high maintenance cost of growing cotton, which demands large amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers derived from fossil oil. 4,5 In addition, around 3 tons of water is consumed for each ton of cotton produced. 6 Measures have been made to tackle these problems such as genetic modification, site selection, and nonchemical control strategies. ...
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Despite the increased use of hemp fiber, negligible attention has been given to upgrade the hemp hurd, which constitutes up to 70 wt % of the hemp stalk and is currently considered a low-value byproduct. In this work, valorization of hemp hurd was performed by reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) in the presence of a metal catalyst. We found an unexpectedly high yield of monophenolic compounds (38.3 wt %) corresponding to above 95% of the theoretical maximum yield. The high yield is explained by both a thin cell wall and high S-lignin content. In addition, organosolv pulping was performed to generate a pulp that was bleached to produce dissolving-grade pulp suitable for textile fiber production (viscosity, 898 mL/g; ISO-brightness, 90.2%) and nanocellulose. Thus, we have demonstrated a novel value chain from a low-value side stream of hemp fiber manufacture that has the potential to increase textile fiber production with 100% yield and also give bio-oil for green chemicals.
... Export of certified organic crops such as banana, cotton, tea or spices may be a valuable tool to raise farmer incomes (Jimenez et al. 2007;Bachmann 2012;Moumoni et al. 2013). The approach is consistent and has a growing potential also in Bhutan provided that marketing, infrastructure and logistics work. ...
Article
The Government of Bhutan, a poor rugged mountainous kingdom in the Himalayas, aims to convert the whole agricultural area to Organic Agriculture (OA) by 2020 in an effort to provoke a substantial increase of productivity and farmers income while preserving the environment. Currently less than 10 % of the agricultural area of Bhutan is in OA production. We analysed the assumptions of the Bhutanese Government cited above from an agronomic perspective. According to our estimates, farmer incomes after conversion will increase only if organic crops will out-yield conventional crops or if farmers can realize higher market prices. Organic yields may partly increase beyond current productivity but may not become as high as in systems using agrochemicals. Under these premises, higher farmer incomes after mass conversion are not likely. The current low agricultural productivity is mainly a result of low soil fertility combined with other system-independent factors such as inadequate input supply, e.g. low quality seeds, lack of techniques and knowledge, inefficient management, labour shortage and poor infrastructure. These problems need to be tackled with integrated approaches, which should include organic management practices such as growing fodder legumes. Integrating more strategies of OA into Bhutanese agriculture is expected to have positive ecological effects. System comparisons between conventional and organic production require more empirical data on the agronomic and economic performances, which are yet to be generated in Bhutan. In addition to trade policies, market and infrastructure development, the organic sector will benefit from a well-resourced Centre of Excellence to focus on research and knowledge transfer.
... This was also confirmed by a study in Kenya, showing that the cooperation among themselves is stronger among women than among men (Kavoi, Kamau, & Mwangi, 2016). However, female respondents in the study region face various disadvantages, such as a widening gender gap due to the uneven provision of knowledge and decision-making power, the exclusion from newly established structures in organic farming as well as a higher workload, also observed in a study in Central Asia (Bachmann, 2012). In most cases, women are cut off from direct access to knowledge and depend on their husbands or on village level meetings for technical information and training. ...
Article
Several projects claim that organic farming empowers women and promotes gender equality. To explore the effects of organic farming initiatives on the empowerment of women as perceived by female farmers, a qualitative field study with interviews in Odisha (India) was conducted. Results show that, although organic farming has positive impacts on women, such as improvements in health and food security, there are significant draw-backs due to factors such as the additional workload. Women are also widely excluded from business decisions in organic farming, as the investigated organic initiative works within traditional gender patterns. Although female farmer groups exist, women are neither included on the cooperative level nor in agricultural training on organic methods, which leads to the reinforcement of deeply embedded gender inequality. Fully exploiting the potential for empowering women through organic farming and increasing gender equality in India would require technical training and working beyond traditional social structures, to include women in higher administrative levels.
... Important biophysical factors are scale of production, level of research support, local ginning capacity, access to quality seed, access to irrigation, access to timely inputs, production costs, price paid for seed, access to credit, timely payment for the crop and availability of season-long farmer training (Page and Ritchie, 2009). In conventional production, high use of agrochemicals is known to adversely affect soil and human health (Bachmann, 2012;Page and Ritchie, 2009). Organic production offers a suitable alternative to small and marginal farmers with prospective advantages of lower costs for farm inputs, improved soils and environment as well as competitive gross margins (Forster et al., 2013;Lakhal et al., 2008;Rajendran et al., 2000). ...
Chapter
Organic farming is an environmentally, economically and socially accepted way to produce food. This review scrutinizes various facets of the practice including its impact on the environment, international markets, and local as well as global food security. First-hand knowledge throughout India and the world was evaluated the various strategies and policies implemented for organic agriculture in India. Scenarios depicted here represent millions of people from all social and economic backgrounds who have embraced this agrarian method ensuring the integrity of food. Since organic farming depends on animal manures, off-farm organic wastes, crop residues, green manures, and bio-fertilizers, the question arises whether the availability of these organic feed materials is sufficient to support widespread organic farming in India. In total, these sources could supply 7.04 Mt. of primary nutrients in India, while in the long-term, organic farming could contribute to food security by harmonizing population growth, food grain production, fertilizer consumption, and prevent or minimize soil nutrient depletion. Municipal solid waste compost and sewage water are being increasingly employed in organic agriculture and very large amounts of organic residues and pollutants are added to the soil. Given this, the prospects of organic agriculture to help solve environmental problems need to be researched in more detail. Soil C (carbon) sequestration by municipal solid waste compost and sewage water may to some extent stop environmental degradation. Primarily, organic farming could boost the quality of food by enhancing protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. Soil health and ecological functions such as biomass production, biodiversity maintenance, environmental protection, etc., which occur in organic farming could also be maintained or improved. In this way, it is possible for climatic aberrations could be mitigated or alleviated. However, policies should be developed for proper utilization of bio-waste, integrated farming approaches with organics, prioritizing areas and different kinds of organic farming, better pest management involving bio-pesticides, strengthening the domestic market for organic produce, farmer-to-farmer communication, etc. Our assessment found that organic farming has huge potential for contributing to food security, risk mitigation, etc., in India. Organic farming could also address many of the sustainable development goals directly, namely 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. However, future research should address areas like: (a) C sequestration and critical C input for organic farming; (b) dynamics, biology and biochemistry of nutrient cycles; (c) impact of the exposure of organic farming to contaminants; and (d) producing higher quality food crops.
... Important biophysical factors are scale of production, level of research support, local ginning capacity, access to quality seed, access to irrigation, access to timely inputs, production costs, price paid for seed, access to credit, timely payment for the crop and availability of season-long farmer training (Page and Ritchie, 2009). In conventional production, high use of agrochemicals is known to adversely affect soil and human health (Bachmann, 2012;Page and Ritchie, 2009). Organic production offers a suitable alternative to small and marginal farmers with prospective advantages of lower costs for farm inputs, improved soils and environment as well as competitive gross margins (Forster et al., 2013;Lakhal et al., 2008;Rajendran et al., 2000). ...
Article
Organic farming is an environmentally, economically and socially accepted way to produce food. This review scrutinizes various facets of the practice including its impact on the environment, international markets, and local as well as global food security. First-hand knowledge throughout India and the world was evaluated the various strategies and policies implemented for organic agriculture in India. Scenarios depicted here represent millions of people from all social and economic backgrounds who have embraced this agrarian method ensuring the integrity of food. Since organic farming depends on animal manures, off-farm organic wastes, crop residues, green manures, and bio-fertilizers, the question arises whether the availability of these organic feed materials is sufficient to support widespread organic farming in India. In total, these sources could supply 7.04 Mt of primary nutrients in India, while in the long-term, organic farming could contribute to food security by harmonizing population growth, food grain production, fertilizer consumption, and prevent or minimize soil nutrient depletion. Municipal solid waste compost and sewage water are being increasingly employed in organic agriculture and very large amounts of organic residues and pollutants are added to the soil. Given this, the prospects of organic agriculture to help solve environmental problems need to be researched in more detail. Soil C (carbon) sequestration by municipal solid waste compost and sewage water may to some extent stop environmental degradation. Primarily, organic farming could boost the quality of food by enhancing protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. Soil health and ecological functions such as biomass production, biodiversity maintenance, environmental protection, etc., which occur in organic farming could also be maintained or improved. In this way, it is possible for climatic aberrations could be mitigated or alleviated. However, policies should be developed for proper utilization of bio-waste, integrated farming approaches with organics, prioritizing areas and different kinds of organic farming, better pest management involving bio-pesticides, strengthening the domestic market for organic produce, farmer-to-farmer communication, etc. Our assessment found that organic farming has huge potential for contributing to food security, risk mitigation, etc., in India. Organic farming could also address many of the sustainable development goals directly, namely 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. However, future research should address areas like: a) C sequestration and critical C input for organic farming; b) dynamics, biology and biochemistry of nutrient cycles; c) impact of the exposure of organic farming to contaminants; and d) producing higher quality food crops.
... Important biophysical factors are scale of 129 Organic farming production, level of research support, local ginning capacity, access to quality seed, access to irrigation, access to timely inputs, production costs, price paid for seed, access to credit, timely payment for the crop and availability of season-long farmer training (Page and Ritchie, 2009). In conventional production, high use of agrochemicals is known to adversely affect soil and human health (Bachmann, 2012;Page and Ritchie, 2009). Organic production offers a suitable alternative to small and marginal farmers with prospective advantages of lower costs for farm inputs, improved soils and environment as well as competitive gross margins (Forster et al., 2013;Lakhal et al., 2008;Rajendran et al., 2000). ...
Chapter
The use of laser biostimulation technology in agriculture has thus far been limited to assessment of the effect of stimulation of seeds or seedlings on crop yield, mainly due to the technical limitations of the apparatus. Advances in mechatronics will enable broader application of laser biotechnology, for stimulation of plants in field conditions in order to minimize biotic and abiotic stress throughout their growth and development. This will increase productivity and improve crop quality, while reducing the use of pesticides, minimizing mineral fertilization, and increasing nutrient utilization by crop plants. Laser biotechnology can be used not only in agriculture, but also in energy production and environmental protection. More effective reclamation of degraded areas through biostimulation of plants can significantly increase the production of biomass as an energy raw material and contribute to the development of renewable bioenergy production (with no negative effect on food production) and the entire bioeconomy. Wider use of laser biotechnology can also contribute to more effective environmental protection and better exploitation of water resources by substantially increasing the efficiency of hydrobotanical wastewater treatment plants.
... 13-14). Two cotton producing cooperatives, one in Kyrgyzstan (Bachmann 2011) and another in India (Makita 2012), also obtained Fairtrade certifications while pursuing organic certifications. Although these farmers who attempted to convert into organics perceived positive impacts of organic farming on the fertility and water-holding capacity of their soils (Bachmann 2011, p. 144), it is difficult to regard these as benefits solely from Fairtrade. ...
Article
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Although most studies on the Fair Trade initiative are, to some extent, cognizant of its contribution to environmental sustainability, what the environmental aspect means to Fair Trade has not yet been explored fully. A review of environmental issues in the Fair Trade literature suggests that Fair Trade might influence participant producers’ farming practices even if it does not directly impact natural resources. This paper attempts to interpret Fair Trade certification as an intermediary institution that links two significant objectives of rural development in the global South—environmental conservation and poverty reduction. This theoretical concept is examined in different real settings by observing four cases of Southern small farmer groups involved in the Fair Trade initiative. Findings from these case studies imply that if Fair Trade certification ensures tangible benefits for small farmers, it can not only help such disadvantaged farmers but also work as an approach for natural resource management.
... Farmers. Farmers incur fixed costs (for example, protective gear for pesticide application) and variable costs (for example, hired labour) to attain and maintain certification 3,40 . Many smallholder farmers cannot meet certification requirements without financial and/ or technical assistance and group-based certification. ...
Article
Agrifood supply chains contribute to many environmental and social problems. Sustainability standards—rules that supply chain actors may follow to demonstrate their commitment to social equity and/or environmental protection—aim to mitigate such problems. We provide a narrative review of the effects of many distinct sustainability standards on different supply chain actors spanning multiple crops. Furthermore, we discuss five emerging questions—causality, exclusion, compliance and monitoring, excess supply and emerging country markets—and identify directions for future research. We find that, while sustainability standards can help improve the sustainability of production processes in certain situations, they are insufficient to ensure food system sustainability at scale, nor do they advance equity objectives in agrifood supply chains.
... (BACHMANN 2012;FORSTER et al., 2013). A reduction in chemical applications impacts not only the environment but also the production costs. ...
Article
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Ramulosis (Colletotrichum gossypii var. cephalosporioides) is an important fungal disease of cotton in Brazil, exclusively controlled by fungicide application. Therefore, sustainable management of ramulosis is essential. This work aimed to evaluate the potential of three bacterial strains, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (UFLA285), Bacillus velezensis (UFLA401), and Paenibacillus lentimorbus (MEN2), for the biocontrol of ramulosis in cotton and their effects on yield and fiber quality. Seed treatment (ST), foliar spray, and soil drenching application methods were used (separately or combined) under greenhouse and field conditions. Chemical treatments recommended against ramulosis and water were used as controls. Under greenhouse conditions all strains reduced the disease incidence. While B. velezensis UFLA401 and P. lentimorbus MEN2 reduced the incidence by 56.6% and 45.7%, respectively, independent of the application method, B. amyloliquefaciens UFLA285 reduced the disease by about 60% when applied as a foliar spray or ST + foliar spray. Two field trials were performed and all bacterial strains reduced ramulosis incidence. In the first year, B. velezensis UFLA401 sprayed on the plants reduced incidence by 22.3% and ST + two foliar sprays resulted in the best performance, decreasing ramulosis by 57%. In both seasons the yield increased by using either bacterial or chemical treatments compared to the water control. The combination B. velezensis UFLA401 and P. lentimorbus MEN2 sprays provided better fiber quality than chemical treatment. Therefore, Bacillus sp. (UFLA285 and UFLA401) and P. lentimorbus MEN2 are potential tools to reduce ramulosis, increase cotton yield and fiber quality.
... The head of the organizing committee noted that they had requested nylon bags instead of cotton but the producer had advised against the use of nylon due to lower quality printing. Whereas organic cotton has the advantage of requiring less fertilizer and water use than conventional cotton (Bachmann 2012), the sustainability of multi-use totes compared with single-use plastic bags has been questioned. According to one study, the total carbon footprint of a reusable organic cotton carrier bag compared with a single-use plastic bag is so high that the conference tote would have to be used at least 149 time for its climate impact to be less than the plastic one (Bisinella et al. 2018). ...
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Academic conferences have a large carbon footprint due to long-distance travel by participants and contribute to increased consumption in other ways. With reference to Stephen Sterling’s distinction between education about sustainability and education for sustainability, the aim of the article is to address the question of in what sense and to what extent was the NGM 2019 conference on sustainable geographies sustainable in practice? Accordingly, the author draws on her own experience as a conference participant, information about a carbon budget provided by the host institution, and e-mail correspondence with both the head of the organizing committee of NGM 2019 and the environmental manager of the host institution, NTNU. The author argues that while the conference was about and for sustainability, sustainability in practice was not achieved to an extent that the conference could be described as sustainable in Sterling’s terms. In conclusion, the article’s contribution is to initiate a conversation within Nordic geography about sustainability as a scholarly aspiration and how to conduct sustainable geography conferences in the future.
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Agriculture is major sector in the economy of Central Asia. The sustainable use of agricultural land is therefore essential to economic growth, human well-being, social equity, and ecosystem services. However, salinization, erosion, and desertification cause severe land degradation which, in turn, degrade human health and ecosystem services. Here, we review the impact of agricultural land use in the five countries of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, during 2008–2013 in 362 articles. We use the Land Use Functions framework to analyze the type and relative shares of environmental, economic, and social topics related to agricultural land use. Our major findings are (1) research on land use in Central Asia received high levels of international attention and the trend in the number of publications exceeded the global average. (2) The impacts of land use on abiotic environmental resources were the most explored. (3) Little research is available about how agricultural land use affects biotic resources. (4) Relationships between land degradation, e.g., salinization and dust storms, and human health were the least explored. (5) The literature is dominated by indirect methods of data analysis, such as remote sensing and mathematical modeling, and in situ data collection makes up only a small proportion.
Conference Paper
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There is a constant need for sustainability in apparel and textiles. Performance apparel represents one of the fastest growing sectors of the international textile and clothing industry- and the market growth is fueled by the emergence of new fibers, new fabrics and innovation process technologies. The purpose of the study is to develop bamboo and modal fabrics with enhanced performance properties for active swimwear as an alternative to nylon, polyester and other synthetic fabrics that are popular and contribute massively to the industry’s greenhouse gases. These ecofriendly fabrics are given UV and water repellent finish to impart performance properties essential for active swimwear. Low stress mechanical properties such as tensile, bending, shear, extensibility, drape and compression have a greater influence on the tailorability, appearance and performance of the finished garment. For the present study, KESF system is used to measure the handle quantitatively for bamboo and modal fabrics after and before treatment. The findings of this study confirm the effectiveness of treated bamboo and modal fabric for developing sustainable active swimwear.
Conference Paper
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Fashion and textiles industry is considered to be one of the most polluting industry in the world. In the recent decade, there has been an increasing concern from both the customers and the industry to work towards a more sustainable approach to reduce textile landfills. Performance swimwear is one such sector that has been in the highlight for the use of synthetic fabrics for various functionality. The market demand has been fueled with the emergence of new innovations in fibers, fabrics and processes that are functional and sustainable. The paper explores sustainable process to introduce Bamboo and Modal swimwear which have been given eco-friendly UV protection and water repellant finish to make the fabrics suitable for swimwear and improve its functionality and handle. The controlled fabrics were tested for handle and mechanical properties using KESF system. The results showed that the finish improved the overall handle and tailorability of the fabrics which is an important aspect in terms of swimwear. Testing of UV protection and water repellency showed that the natural fabrics had excellent properties of quick drying and UV protection which is necessary in swimwear. The findings of this study confirm the effectiveness of treated bamboo and modal fabrics for developing sustainable active swimwear.
Chapter
The influence of stakeholders’ pressures on adopting better environmental practices is well reported in the supply chain management literature. In this context, product development policies focused on sustainability require integration between economic, social and environmental issues that cover the entire production chain. Clothing and fashion are highly visible elements of society; therefore, the textile industry serves a manner to promote a sustainable and eco-friendly mindset. The incorporation of eco-friendly and fair-trade fibers can be a starting point for changing the existing industrial paradigm within the textile industry. At the same time, cotton fiber is the most commonly utilized natural fiber in the textile industry. Cotton is a soft, staple fiber that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant, native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, such as the Americas, South Asia and Africa. It is mainly used in spinning to produce ring or open-end yarn for weaving and knitting applications. The annual global production of cotton fiber is about 26 million tons. However, cotton production worldwide uses more than 20% of all insecticides employed in agriculture. In many areas, irrigated cotton cultivation has led to the depletion of ground and surface water sources. Many conventional cotton farmers in developing countries are in a crisis due to decreasing soil fertility, increasing production costs, resistant pests, or low cotton prices. In this scenario, an increasing number of cultivators turn to organic cultivation in order to restore soil fertility, reduce production costs, or to get a better price for their certified organic harvest. Organic cotton appears as an environmentally preferable product, of added benefit to the environment, farmers and consumers. Organic farming is slowly gaining ground in the global cotton market. It is often promoted to address the economic, environmental and health risks of conventional cotton production. Moving from the language of commodity chains to commodity networks, helps portray the complex network of material and nonmaterial relationships connecting the social, environmental, political, and economic actors. Understanding how individuals, firms, government authorities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in economic and social transactions and how these different actors both shape and are shaped by network relations. In Brazil, organic and fair-trade cotton are widely seen as opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods. The cotton crop, due to its agronomic characteristics on climate adaptation, historical, cultural and economic value, established and gained prominence in family agriculture in the semi-arid region of Brazil. In this production network, trust was a critical factor in recruiting farmers and ensuring their continued participation in the organic and agroecological cotton production system and securing European customers’ organic profile. Farmers’ organizations as well as national and international environmental NGOs are instrumental in mediating and (re)building social networks among organic farmers and with the other actors in the supply chain. Linking small producers to markets, as integrating them into value chains is widely recognized as a valuable way to increase community development and benefit sustainable fashion brands.
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The increasing resource and ecological challenges in agriculture necessitate agricultural intensification and resource optimization. This study focuses on agroecological intensification using organic practices. It compares the production efficiency of the organic and non-organic smallholder kale production systems in Kenya. Using survey data collected from Kenya, the study estimated production (cost and revenue) efficiency of the kale production system by conducting data envelopment and stochastic frontier analysis and subjected the efficiency measures to propensity score matching analysis. The results show no significant difference in cost efficiency between organic and non-organic kale producers. However, revenue efficiency and income per unit production cost are lower among organic than non-organic kale producers. The results also show that the efficiency and productivity of the organic smallholder kale production system are limited by a lack of inputs (especially manure) but not labor. This implies that improving the efficiency of the smallholder organic kale production system requires more use of organic manure as well as research and training on organic pesticides. The finding concurs with literature that reports organic input problems and lower productivity in organic than non-organic production systems in developing countries and Kenya, especially in vegetables. It also shows that the organic production system is more labor-intensive than the non-organic system.
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The institutional change in rural Kyrgyzstan during the transition period included farm reorganization, land reform, building markets, and community institutions. The land reform established private property rights to land, including the rights to transfer, exchange, sell, lease, and use the land as collateral for credit. These key features of Kyrgyzstan's agrarian transition are in sharp contrast with those of other transition countries in Central Asia. This paper reviews the process of institutional change in rural Kyrgyzstan, examines its impact on agricultural performance and discusses some remaining major institutional and policy constraints on agricultural growth in this country.
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Social relations associated with conventional agricultural exports find their origins in long term associations based on business, family, and class alliances. Working outside these boundaries presents a host of challenges, especially where small producers with little economic or political power are concerned. Yet, in many developing countries, alternative trade organizations (ATOs) based on philosophies of social justice and/or environmental well-being are carving out spaces alongside traditional agricultural export sectors by establishing new channels of trade and marketing. Coffee provides a case in point, with the fair trade and certified organic movements making inroads into the market place. In their own ways, these movements represent a type of economic and social restructuring from below, drawing upon and developing linkages beyond the traditional boundaries of how coffee is produced and traded. An examination of the philosophies of the fair trade and organic coffee movements reveal that the philosophical underpinnings of both certified organic and fair-trade coffee run counter to the historical concerns of coffee production and trade. Associations of small producers involved in these coffees face stiff challenges – both internal and external to their groups. More work, especially in situ fieldwork aimed at uncovering the challenges, benefits, tensions, and successes, is needed to understand better the ways these networks operate in the dynamic agro-food complex.
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Organic cotton productionboomed in the early 1990s only to fall steeplymid-decade. Production is currently rising, butslowly, and has yet to reach previous levels.This is in marked contrast to the steady growthin organic food production during the 1990s.Why, when other areas of organic productionexperienced steady growth, did organic cottonexperience a boom and bust? A study of thecotton production and processing industryreveals a long and heavily industrializedproduction chain that has presented numerouschallenges to growers and processors trying tointroduce an organic product. In addition, muchof the surge in demand for organic cotton clothoriginated with clothing manufacturersresponding to increased consumer environmentalconcern and interest in improving theirenvironmental reputations. This demandevaporated when clothing companies encountereda lack of consumer awareness of theenvironmental costs of conventional cottonproduction and the benefits of organic cotton.Organic clothing lines were abandoned and manycotton farmers, left with no market for theirorganic bales, were forced to either store thebales or sell them on the conventional marketfor a loss. An examination of the social andtechnical aspects of organic cotton productionidentifies some of the critical variables, suchas the risks farmers face in agriculturalproduction, the organic standards, sources ofinnovation in technological change, and the roleof consumer demand in supporting moresustainable technology, all of which shape thecontinuing development of organic products.
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Soil chemical properties during the transition from conventional to organic and low-input farming practices were studied over 8 yr in California's Sacramento Valley to document changes in soil fertility status and nutrient storage. Four farming systems differing in crop rotation and external inputs were established on land previously managed conventionally. Fertility in the organic system depended on animal manure applications and winter cover crops; the two conventional systems received synthetic fertilizer inputs; the low-input system used cover crops and animal manure during the first 3 yr and cover crops and synthetic fertilizer for the remaining 5 yr. At 4 and 8 yr after establishment, most changes in soil chemical properties were consistent with predictions based on nutrient budgets. Inputs of C, P, K, Ca, and Mg were higher in the organic and low-input systems as a result of manure applications and cover crop incorporations. After 4 yr, soils in the organic and low-input systems had higher soil organic C, soluble P, exchangeable K, and pH. Ceasing manure applications in the low-input system in Year 4 resulted in declining levels of organic C, soluble P, and exchangeable K. Crop rotation (the presence or absence of corn) also had a significant effect on organic C levels. Differences in total N appeared to be related in part to inputs, but perhaps also to differing efficiency of the farming systems at storing excess N inputs: the low-input system appeared to be most efficient, and the conventional systems were least efficient. Electrical conductivity (EC), soluble Ca, and soluble Mg levels were tightly linked but not consistently different among treatments. Relatively stable EC levels in the organic system indicate that animal manures did not increase salinity. Overall, our findings indicate that organic and low-input farming in the Sacramento Valley result in small but important increases in soil organic C and larger pools of stored nutrients, which are critical for long-term fertility maintenance.
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Cotton farmers in many developing countries are facing decreasing marginal returns due to stagnating yields and high input costs. Conversion to organic management could offer an alternative. In a two year comparative study in central India covering 170 cotton fields, organic farms achieved cotton yields that were on par with those in conventional farms, whereby nutrient inputs and input costs per crop unit were reduced by half. Due to 10–20% lower total production costs and a 20% organic price premium, average gross margins from organic cotton fields were 30–40% higher than in the conventional system. Although the crops grown in rotation with cotton were sold without premium, organic farms achieved 10–20% higher incomes from agriculture. In addition to these economic benefits, the organic farming system does not burden soil and groundwater with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. However, in this study only minor differences were detected in soil fertility parameters of organic and conventional fields. Altogether, the results suggest that conversion to organic farming can improve livelihoods of smallholders while protecting natural resources. Income loss due to reduced yields in initial years of transition, however, constitutes a major hurdle, especially for poorer farmers. It is thus important to support farmers in overcoming the obstacles of the conversion period.
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This paper examines the extent to which certified fairtrade cotton programs in West Africa present an alternative to the conventional cotton economy. Two fairtrade programs operating in Burkina Faso and Mali serve as case studies. The paper argues that fairtrade cotton fails to offer an alternative to conventional cotton because it works within the same commodity chain that impoverishes farmers in the first place. Cotton grower organizations seek more power within the conventional cotton sector to increase incomes and improve the living standards of all cotton growers. They are also active at the international level to eliminate the inequities of international trade. It is in these arenas that cotton growers are struggling to improve their incomes and livelihoods. Fairtrade does not address these fundamental inequities and power relations. The slim pickings of these programs are further evident in the very small amount of cotton produced and marketed as fair trade. Plans to expand production from less than 1% to 10% by 2012 are unrealistic in light of the introduction of genetically modified cotton and the limited market demand for fairtrade cotton. Despite these limitations, fairtrade cotton programs are producing some positive effects, notably women’s participation in cash crop cultivation, higher cotton quality, and the diffusion of organic farming techniques. An innovative direct marketing agreement linking the National Cotton Growers’ Union of Burkina Faso with the US women’s apparel company Victoria’s Secret indicates that alternative trading relations can be constructed outside the conventional commodity chain.
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Reported increases in crop yields over the first few years of organic farming (especially during the 3-year “transitional” period established in US law) have been attributed to gradual improvements in soil properties, such as the capacity of the soil microbial community to mineralize N or to suppress disease. To test the hypothesis that yield increases with years of organic farming are due to improvements in soil properties, we compared identically managed organic and transitional plots differing only in duration of organic management (>5 versus <1 year). Conventional plots were included for reference purposes. There was no difference in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) growth or yield between established organic and first-year transitional plots, but both outperformed the comparable conventional system. Even no-compost subplots within the transitional plots had yields similar to established organic plots, so the yield advantage relative to conventional plots was apparently due to beneficial effects of a winter legume cover crop in a wet year. Soil inorganic N did not differ between transitional and organic plots. Conventional and organic plots differed in soil microbial community composition, but transitional plots were not intermediate between conventional and organic. In the second year of the organic transition, when maize (Zea mays L.) was grown, yields were again not significantly different from the established organic system. This result is inconsistent with the hypothesis that yield-limiting differences in soil quality between organic and conventional systems take at least 3 years to develop. An alternative hypothesis, not tested directly, is that previously reported yield increases result from improved management with increasing experience, not improving soil quality.
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"Drawing on case studies from Benin, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, this paper argues that organic cotton has much to offer smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Experience shows that it is technically feasible, reduces health problems, maintains soil fertility and food security and often supports higher incomes than conventional cotton. All case study projects show positive impacts and empowered, more sustainable communities. Although conventional cotton production has contributed to economies in sub-Saharan Africa, it is not cost-free. Involvement in conventional cotton depends on expensive and toxic synthetic inputs (fertilisers and pesticides) to the detriment of ecosystem and human health, undermines food security and exposes producer countries and farmers to the fluctuations of world market prices."
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Nearly 40% of the Egyptian workforce is employed in agriculture. The cotton industry relies on children and adolescents, who work seasonally, to apply pesticides to the cotton crops. Although previous research has examined adult pesticide exposures in this workforce in Egypt, no research has examined the health effects in adolescents. This study attempts to systematically replicate findings examining the impact of organophosphate pesticide (OP) exposure in adults on Arabic speaking children working as applicators. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of pesticide exposure on children and adolescents spraying cotton fields. Male children currently applying pesticides between the ages of 9 and 15 (Younger, n=30) and 16 and 19 (Older, n=20) were recruited for the study. They completed a neurobehavioral test battery; personality inventory; work, health, and exposure questionnaires; and medical and neurological screening exams. Blood samples were collected to measure acetylcholinesterase. Children not working in agriculture, matched on age and education, served as controls. Both Younger and Older applicator groups, performed significantly worse than the controls on the majority of neurobehavioral tests controlling for age and years of education. The applicators reported significantly more neurological symptoms than the controls and had lower acetylcholinesterase activity. A dose-effect relationship demonstrated that increased years of exposure to organophosphate pesticides is associated with cognitive deficits. This is one of the several studies demonstrating that functional cognitive effects are positively correlated with increased years of exposure to OP pesticides, though primarily in adult populations, building confidence in the association. Since children around the world are exposed to OP pesticides, these studies suggest that the need to evaluate this potential problem is urgent.
Article
Balancing the numerous benefits that may accrue from pesticide use on cotton, farmers face health hazards. Pesticide-induced acute symptoms significantly increased the cost-of-illness in a survey of 280 smallholder cotton growers in two districts of Zimbabwe. Cotton growers lost a mean of 180 Zimbabwe dollars in Sanyati and 316 Zimbabwe dollars per year in Chipinge on pesticide-related direct and indirect acute health effects. These values are equivalent to 45% and 83% of annual household pesticide expenditures in the two districts. The time spent recuperating from illnesses attributed to pesticides averaged 2 days in Sanyati and 4 days in Chipinge during the 1998/1999 growing season. These pesticide health cost estimates represent lower bounds only; they omit chronic pesticide health effects as well as suffering and other non-monetary costs. Acute pesticide symptoms were determined in large part by pesticide use practices, notably the lack of protective clothing. Yet many smallholder farmers misunderstood pesticide health hazards, and so did little to protect themselves. Despite the use of simple color codes, 22% of smallholder cotton growers in Sanyati and 58% in Chipinge did not know how the four colored triangles communicated increasing degrees of pesticide toxicity. Better farmer education in exposure averting strategies is needed. Likewise, fuller accounting for hidden health costs in future would allow farmers to make more informed decisions about agricultural pest management.
Article
An attempt is made in this paper to study the phenomenon of suicides of farmers in the country in the background of domestic and trade liberalisation and in a macro economic perspective by studying the changes brought about in the cultivation of cotton crop. This paper argues that it is necessary to study all the policies- agricultural, industrial, employment and social welfare and their impact on the farming community. Meaningful conclusions and possible corrective measures can be derived through that process only. The erstwhile prosperous states of Andhra Pradesh and Punjab recorded large number of suicides of farmers followed by Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. The phenomenon is widespread and cannot be dismissed as either isolated or one-off events. Further, farmers, committing suicides is an ongoing process. These suicides can be traced back to mid-eighties. Majority of the victims were from small farmers, workforce age group and dry land cultivators and growers of cotton. At least a third of them are tenant-cum-owner cultivators. Crop failure and indebtedness emerge as the main and causative factors, while social and psychological factors are precipitant in nature. The expected prices and income were not obtained for more than 50 percent of the farmers. Exports of cotton were liberalized since 1989-90 and continued since then. Imports were totally liberalized in 1994 by placing under Open General License (OGL). This has led to the percolating of price uncertainty in the international market to the cotton farmers of the country. Farm harvest prices had almost doubled in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka and Gujarat in the first five years of nineties. Large numbers of farmers entered cotton cultivation when prices are increasing in anticipation of huge profits. Failure of chemical control, rising rental values of land, depleting ground water, popularization of hybrids, rise in money wages, hike in fertilizer, power, diesel and interest rates contributed to the large increase in costs of cultivation. The farm harvest prices started declining after 1994-95. There is crisis in the cultivation of cotton even in the mid-eighties. Sharper decline in absolute productivity, price uncertainty due to trade liberalisation and rise in costs due to domestic liberalisation, decline in credit and non-farm work intensified the crisis. The cultivators of cotton seem to be net losers in this process of liberalisation. The policy of counter cyclical export, import, export tariffs, increase in research efforts, adoption of IPM measures by stepping up extension efforts, organic farming, comprehensive insurance cover to take care of price risk also, liberalisation of tenancy laws are the possible solutions.
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