Can you first tell us a bit about Lojas Renner’s Agroecological cotton project?
Through its Institute, Lojas Renner seeks to empower women throughout the textile supply chain. The Agroecological cotton project was started with the objectives of increasing the production of in-transition cotton in Brazil and empower-ing female leaders in the cultivation of this cotton. In the ﬁrst year, the project supported a Quilombola community in the north of Minas Gerais, with a focus on developing female leaders in the production of this cotton. Several trainings were carried out.
What are the highlights from your work over the past year?
6.5 tons of agroecological cotton were harvested and reached the ﬁnal consumer via Lojas Renner in 2020 and 2021. The ReMinas collection is produced with this raw material, and the theme of Quilombola women is present in the prints and earthy colors of the clothes. Additionally, in 2020, 344 hectares were planted in consortium, covering 17 municipalities and 81 communities, including Quilombolas, indigenous, Catingueiros, Gerizeiros, Vazanteiros and Veredeiros traditional groups.
What inspires and excites you to work with organic cotton?
Brazil is the 4th largest producer of cotton in the world, yet it is one of the smallest producers of organic cotton. Of the 3 million tons which were harvested in 2019/2020, only 97 tons were certiﬁed as organic. The production of organic cotton in Brazil takes place on small properties through family farming, where the role of women is fundamental for the growth of the crop, cultivated in consortium with other crops. Through its Institute, Renner seeks to empower women in the textile supply chain. The company has public sustainability commitments which focus on reducing the environmental impact generated by its operations across the value chain. The objectives of the project are to increase the production of organic cotton in Brazil and empower female leaders.
What are you doing that embraces Textile Exchange’s Climate+ vision and the interconnected issues of climate, water, soil health, and biodiversity?
We are developing a study of soil analysis in the region before and after the cultivation of agroecological cotton, in order to quantify the positive impacts and measure carbon capture in accordance with the Veriﬁed Carbon Standard methodology. We want to identify and measure the ecosystem services (carbon and biodiversity) in comparison to a cotton monoculture system. The project also captures and stores rainwater through a “calçadão” cistern, which guarantees the availability of water during periods of drought in the region (which is a water stressed region).
How does your project ensure the efﬁcient use of water?
The region where the cultivation is carried out is very dry, enduring up to 9 months of the year without rain. To solve this problem, the project captures and stores rainwater through a “calçadão” cistern, guaranteeing the availability of water during periods of drought in the region.
What is the impact of your work on farming communities?
In the ﬁrst year, the project supported a Quilombola community in the north of Minas Gerais with a focus on developing female leaders in the production of this cotton. In the following years, the project spread to other communities, involving other traditional groups in the region (indigenous, Catingueiros, Gerizeiros, Vazanteiros and Veredeiros). In these years, several training activities on organic farming and women’s empowerment in the context of family farming were carried out. As a result, 6.5 tons of agroecological cotton were harvested, which reached the ﬁnal consumer via Lojas Renner in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, 344 hectares were planted in consortium, covering 17 municipalities and 81 communities.