Today, we are tackling a question that you often ask us, and which makes sense. At a time when it is REALLY time to change our consumption and production habits, it was important for us to explain to you, simply, why our cotton, which is our raw material, is so different. Or at least, the approach we have had since the beginning of Kalani, and which for us was obvious. Beyond the cultivation of cotton, there are so many positive impacts to take into account… Sometimes invisible. We explain it to you in this article.
Since the creation of the concept, in 2016, we are proud to have never changed our approach: to have at heart to offer you a quality always at the top and a transparency without compromise.
So what makes our organic / Fairtrade cotton so different?
Since 2016, we have been working in partnership with an organic / Fairtrade cotton cooperative in India from whom we buy their organic cotton directly.
While the majority of textile brands around the world struggle to know the country of origin of their cotton, we know the villages, farmers and communities that grow and harvest our beautiful long staple cotton (known as Egyptian Cotton). The textile brands that can say the same, whether in India, Africa or Latin America, are probably no more than twenty or so and we know them too.
The cooperative we work with employs over 10,000 small farmers, training them and encouraging them to adopt best practices in organic farming. These practices could today be called “regenerative agriculture”, because it is an agriculture that is, of course, GMO-free, without chemical inputs (no pesticides, fertilisers or toxic herbicides), but also because it takes into account all the neighbouring biodiversity. Indeed, it makes it possible to plant local trees to delimit the fields, to use animal excrement to feed the soil, to plant in places and at times that will favour irrigation by rainfall, etc.
How is this possible?
Well, by buying organic / Fairtrade cotton, at the true price of organic / Fairtrade cotton, by working directly with the cooperative, by involving the whole supply chain in the process, by respecting and valuing the work of the cotton farmers.
On average, we pay 13.5% more for our organic / Fairtrade cotton than Premium Fairtrade, 26% more than organic cotton elsewhere, and about 46% more than conventional cotton.
We agree cotton prices with the cooperative and its farmers in advance. If the stock market crashes and the price of cotton falls, we continue to pay the same price, even if it is more expensive. Because we are committed to paying a fair price all year round. If, on the other hand, the stock market takes off and the price of cotton soars, we pay the agreed price or a little more, so that we can still allow the farmers to make an extra margin if the stock market price exceeds the agreed amounts.
This situation had never happened in 20 years but, since the end of 2020, until the date of writing this article in April 2022, we unfortunately find ourselves in this situation.
We work in real partnership with the cooperative, we commit ourselves to volumes 18-24 months in advance, to allow the cooperative to plan the cotton crops and to obtain local credits thanks to our commitments. In some years, local credits and aid from international organisations (World Bank, UN, etc.) are not sufficient for the cooperatives, and in those years we pre-finance the purchase of organic cotton seeds 18 months in advance, in proportion to our volume commitment. In this way, we secure the farmers and prevent them from being tempted by commercial agents of GMO seed multinationals, which would make them lose their organic certification for at least 3 years.
Respect for crop rotations, biodiversity and local food
All of this allows the cooperative and the organic and Fairtrade certified farmer communities to plan their crops while respecting crop rotations to keep the land nutrient rich, and to plan their income. This is quite unique in the field of smallholder agriculture in developing countries. Crop rotation is done with essential resource crops such as maize, wheat and other seeds needed in the local diet. Rotations between these different crops, for 2 years, and cotton, maximum once every 3 years, without chemicals and without GMOs, keeps the soil, rich in nutrients, and therefore the land alive! Able to continue feeding local communities for many generations.
With the 13.5% that goes beyond Fairtrade Premium, the cooperative invests in training, education, health and development of villages and farming communities. This is what is known as a “Best Practice” cooperative, and at this level they can be counted on the fingers of two hands at most worldwide.
Our organic GOTS and Fairtrade certifications allow us to guarantee the traceability of this authentic and honest value chain in which we participate and for which we are both proud and grateful.
Now you know why, beyond the quality and softness you know, our cotton is so different. All these reasons give it a soul, a history, and for nothing in the world, we would turn back. Unfortunately, there are still too many brands that use uncertified or even conventional cotton to increase their profit margins and production quantities.