A Resounding, Collaborative Success: Highlights from the Organic Cotton and Textiles Conference 2023
Organic Cotton Farmers Take Center Stage at Industry-Leading Conference
Forging connections and building the groundwork for successful partnerships in the future, GOTS, together with OCA (Organic Cotton Accelerator), and IFOAM – Organics International recently welcomed over 230 attendees to the Organic Cotton & Textiles Conference, held in Indore, India. Bringing together farm groups, industry representatives, non-profits, academics, certifiers, and policymakers, the event created opportunities for attendees to work together on some of the key challenges and opportunities throughout the sector.
Johanna von Stechow, Director Corporate Responsibility at Tchibo said of the event, "It was great to reconnect face-to-face after a long period of online events. What deeply moved me was the field visit as well as the farmers speaking on stage. We all got fruitful insights from panels, deep dive sessions and talks with different players along the cotton supply chain. We all have different perspectives and roles, but we share the vision of scaling and empowering the organic textile supply chain, creating better ecosystems and farmer livelihoods.”
Sharafat Mallik, SPM - Material Innovation & Sourcing Sustainability at C&A noted that, "It was a productive session after a long time with GOTS and other organic stake holders together. We learned about many initiatives which GOTS has taken to support the organic sector at large. Our wish for GOTS to come up supporting the value chain below ginner’s level to achieve more transparency, equity and enthusiasm for the organic farmers in expanding organic landscape in India."
For GOTS, building these relationships within the industry is crucial for future success. “It was a pleasure interacting with all the participants in the organic value chain including representatives from government. We recognise that change is built upon collaboration, and it was incredibly powerful to see what happens when we bring together all the players in the organic cotton and textile sector, to create the foundation of a stronger future for all,” noted Rahul Bhajekar, Co-Managing Director of GOTS.
Claudia Kersten, Co- Managing Director of GOTS, added, “GOTS acknowledges that it is only by working together that we can increase the integrity of the entire organic textile sector. By bringing together relevant stakeholders from private businesses, NGOs, academics and politicians we were able to address obstacles and work on effective operational, risk-management, technology and data as well as regulatory solutions. The momentum from this conference will propel us towards continued collaboration in problem-solving together.”
The packed three-day agenda offered panels, break-out sessions, networking fora and field visits, with the aim of working together to develop a shared vision to empower the organic textile value chain worldwide. Feedback from attendees revealed that the comprehensive agenda and targeted topics were pivotal, with particular emphasis on the inspiring conversations with organic cotton and in-conversion farmers.
A field trip to meet with farmers and observe a range of farm projects first-hand was a highlight for many, including Jyoti Sharma, OCA’s Head of South Asia. She said that “amongst the many “wow” moments, I was deeply moved by the dynamism and resilience of organic cotton farmers who set the stage ablaze with their indigenous innovations, pragmatic approaches and charming wit while passionately discussing their daily toils and their big wins in their organic cotton farms. The Farmers’ Voices was a heart-warming validation of how OCA’s organic cotton farmers are reaping the fruits of their labour and progressively enriching their lives and livelihoods.”
IFOAM – Organics International Vice-President and Conference Keynote Speaker, Choitresh Ganguly observed that the conference filled a need in the industry, “After a long time, I attended an international conference that truly brought together farmers, for-profits, non-profits, certifiers, buyers and sellers, academics, and policymakers. We gathered together in both conversation and debate, with a clear focus on organic textiles and the idea of a win – win for all along the value (supply) chain – from the farmers to the consumers, while drawing our collective attention to the urgency of healing the ecosystems of our planet.”
Looking ahead, we anticipate the positive outcomes of relationships cultivated and strengthened during the event, as well as the innovative initiatives that will arise from further collaboration. We eagerly await the empowering impact that an enhanced organic textile value chain will have on the sector as a whole.