We’ve been working hard for the last decade to improve the rights of workers and the lives of the people working within our supply chain. Cotton, a natural fibre, makes up a large proportion of our clothing range and in some regions cotton is grown on large-scale industrial farms. However, it is mostly grown on small farms in low-income countries, where knowledge of the most up to date and environmentally friendly farming practices is often limited.
That’s why, in 2013, we partnered with agricultural experts, CottonConnect, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association to create the ‘Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme’.
The programme is designed to introduce sustainable farming methods, improve cotton yields and increase the farmers’ income. Our three year pilot in Gujarat India trained 1,251 women smallholders resulting in an average profit increase of 247%, which many used to improve household welfare and to invest in education for their children. The results have exceeded all our expectations and that’s why over the next six years, an additional 10,000 female farmers will be taken through the programme, with the first seeds being sown by new trainees in April 2016.
Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Programme has also been featured in two reports on women in agriculture and addressing gender equality. The IFC’s (International Finance Corporation), part of the World Bank Group and CottonConnect’s reports can be found here.
I keep my friends informed of what I am learning. Eighty percent of the farming, from sowing to harvesting, is done collectively by women in the village, so I encourage them to also learn about these new farming techniques.