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Organic cotton to fair trade fashion

Why go organic?

In Canete, Peru, Practical Action has been working with local company Oro Blanco to convince local farmers to change to organic methods of growing cotton. While Practical Action trained farmers on the alternatives to using chemicals, Oro Blanco made a commitment to buy cotton in advance from farmers who were willing to go organic.

At first, many of the farmers were anxious about changing to organic methods because yields (the amount of cotton they could grow on their land) fell without the help of chemicals. At the same time, costs rose because they had to employ more people to look after the crop, rather than simply spraying it once a fortnight to keep it pest-free.

However, the farmers who persevered are now benefiting in a range of ways. Oro Blanco pays them a guaranteed price for their cotton (at least 25 per cent more than for conventional cotton). Although labour costs have risen, the farmers don't have to spend money on pesticides and all say that they much prefer giving money to workers than to the chemical industry. The health of farmers, farm workers and their families has improved now that they are no longer using chemicals. The soil has become more fertile and the farmers are gaining satisfaction from producing something that they know is natural. Many of the farmers have now become shareholders in Oro Blanco.



A farmer's story: Ulysses

Jorge's experience

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Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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