Images courtesy of Dinesh Khanna for C&A Foundation
Worldwide demand for cotton products that meet certification standards—organic, fair trade, etc.—has grown over the past 10 years. India is the largest producer of cotton in the world.
As of 2016-17, India produced 5.88 million metric tons of cotton and exported 1.26 million metric tons. India is also the largest producer of organic cotton, accounting for 56% of the world’s production. This includes organic cotton produced as part of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a subset of organic cotton farmers who adhere to less restrictive standards on crop inputs but more restrictive social and labor standards than those of organic cotton, including promoting decent work practices.
AIR—funded by the C&A Foundation and in partnership with Outline India and Thinkstep India—conducted a social and economic impact assessment, and contributed to an environmental impact assessment of cotton farming in Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian state and the largest organic cotton producer in the country. This mixed methods study aims to better understand the socioeconomic and environmental outcomes of organic and BCI cotton farming, compared with conventional cotton farming. The research team examined outcomes of five subgroups of cotton farmers:
- Conventional (non-organic)
- Exclusive organic (farmers only producing organic cotton)
- Exclusive BCI (farmers only producing BCI cotton)
- Non-exclusive organic (farmers producing both organic and conventional cotton)
- Non-exclusive BCI (farmers producing both BCI and conventional cotton)