At the end of February, a three-day organic cotton and textiles conference in India, entitled ‘Empowering Our Supply Chain’ was organised by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the Organic Cotton Accelerator and IFOAM Organics International (GOTS/OCA/IFOAM).
The conference was attended by Shri Kamal Patel, Agriculture Minister, Madhya Pradesh, Roop Rashi Mahapratra, Textile Commissioner of India and Dr A.K. Yadav, Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture. It was held in Indore, and the conference was reminded by Mr Choitresh Ganguly, Vice President of IFOAM Organics International, that this is a location relevant to the entire history of organic farming as it is where Sir Albert Howard learned about the nurture of soil humus from local farmers. His taking this knowledge back to the United Kingdom helped to inspire the fledgling organic movement there.
It was clear that there is much support for organic production, with government support for some 10,000 bio-input centres (for example, biochar or cattle urine treatment), along with regional farm aggregation centres of which 200 have been completed. The members of India’s organic industry present were also keen to look at expanding production, and representatives of brands showed great interest in ensuring a reliable supply chain.
A field trip to visit an organic farm and nursery organised by OCA showed that a practical and systematic approach to organic production is taken by Indian organic farmers. It was also apparent that the co-operative system under which this production operates is particularly beneficial for the empowerment of women, who will often take a lead in the production of on-farm inputs and nursery gardening.
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