The first serious step towards organic cotton growing and processing was taken in Turkey in the early 1980s. Since then the amount of organic cotton produced has grown steadily - to nearly 13,000 tonnes in 1995. Organic cotton is now grown in 18 countries and many companies sell organic cotton products.
Without the use of pesticides, crop yields fall when farmers first change to organic methods. For example, in the Kahramanaras region of Turkey, changing to organic production resulted in a drop in yield from 3,160 to 1,500 kilos per hectare. But the yield gradually recovered, with production increasing to 2,750 kilos per hectare.
On average, organic cotton crop yields are about 14% lower than the yields for conventional cotton crops. However, income is about 6% higher because production costs are lower. Organic fertilisers, pest management and natural controls have all helped to reduce the presence of insects that can damage the cotton.