Textile Exchange recognizes the potential for the growth of the organic cotton sector in Latin America and is excited to announce that it is embarking on a series of activities to help catalyze this potential.
Each year we see more brands, retailers, and consumers looking for organic cotton in this region. At the same time, organic cotton production is increasing significantly in Brazil and Peru, and many promising projects are underway across the continent. We are excited by this momentum and are following it very closely.
As a nonprofit organization, Textile Exchange envisions a global textile industry that protects and restores the environment, reduces the climate impact of our industry, and enhances lives. We see our role as inspiring and equipping people to accelerate sustainable practices and reduce climate impact in the textile value chain. One of our levers for action to achieve this is our Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT). The OCRT is a global stakeholder platform that supports and brings together the organic cotton community to be inspired, mobilized, and equipped to act. We recognize that, to have an impact globally, we need to customize strategies at the regional level. This is why we started hosting Regional OCRT Summits and Working Groups in 2017, starting with our Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group.
We have been delighted to see, in recent years, an increase in the participation of Latin American stakeholders at our in-person Global OCRT Summits. Many others, who could not participate in-person, have spoken to our Regional Ambassador, Silvio Moraes, to ask for updates and information. This made clear to us the importance of expanding our work in this region and developing a wider regional network. As such, we have begun planning for the following activities:
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, planning had been in the works at Textile Exchange to host our first Regional OCRT Summit for Latin America and the Caribbean in northeast Brazil in September 2020. This in-person meeting can, of course, no longer happen, so we hope to hold it in September 2021 instead.
In the meantime, we will host a session focused on Latin America and the Caribbean will be held as part of our (now virtual) Global OCRT Summit in December 2020.
We will be setting up a small, representative group of stakeholders to help us establish a Working Group for Latin America and the Caribbean.
In September 2020 we are launching a new virtual home for the OCRT and its regional communities called the OCRT Hub. This online community will allow organic cotton stakeholders across the world and across the supply chain to connect and share their learnings.
We are excited about the potential for growth of the organic cotton sector in Latin America. In order to achieve this, investment in technical support from buyers will be critical for farmers to expand their production. With the knowledge and expertise of our team and the organic cotton community, we are excited to support this journey.
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The production of organic cotton is increasing worldwide, including in the region of Latin America & the Caribbean, which saw a significant growth rate of 27 percent in 2018/19. The region accounts for 0.3 percent of global organic cotton production, growing a total of 666 metric tons (MT) of organic cotton fiber, with the potential for substantial growth.
According to Textile Exchange’s 2020 Organic Cotton Market Report, this production stemmed from three countries in 2018/19; Argentina (10.8 MT), Brazil (97 MT), and Peru (558 MT). In total, there were 2,119 organic cotton farmers in the region growing organic cotton on 2,835 hectares (ha) of land. An additional 1,272 ha in Brazil and Peru were in conversion to organic.