Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Program aims to help women smallholders in India embrace environmentally friendly production techniques that can help boost yields. The program was launched three years back. It has worked with 1,251 farmers, delivering a 247 per cent increase in average profits over the period. Promoting environmental best practices has led to a 40 per cent reduction in chemical fertiliser use, a 44 per cent cut in chemical pesticide use, and a 10 per cent reduction in water use.
These techniques have cut input costs for farmers by 19.2 per cent, contributing to a increase in profits that female farmers have been able to invest in home improvements, healthcare and education for their children. Primark is now seeking to expand the program to cover 10,000 farmers over a six year period as it looks to curb the environmental impact of its supply chain and support women in rural India who currently face average incomes that are just 78 per cent of those experienced by men.
The program provides training to farmers, demonstrating how organic pesticides, lower levels of fertilisers, soil testing and using targeted irrigation rather than flooding can reduce environmental impact, lower costs, and boost yields. Primark's long term ambition is to ensure all the cotton in its supply chain is sourced sustainably.