The organic cotton sector faces several systemic issues. Currently, the lack of transparency in the cotton supply chain leads to low product integrity, and farmers have no incentive to switch to organic production due to a lack of knowledge, access to quality organic seeds, and access to finance. Although much has already been done by the sector to tackle these issues, the next step to accelerate sustainability and tackle root causes of the sector’s problems is to collaborate and coordinate these efforts.
The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA)—with founding partners C&A, H&M, Kering, EILEEN FISHER, Textile Exchange, C&A Foundation, and Inditex—was founded in 2014, and aims to build a fair, robust organic cotton market with appropriate integrity at every relevant level, whilst growing supply and demand. After the initial set-up in 2015, in which NewForesight was closely involved, the OCA has entered a two year prototyping phase, starting 2016.
During the prototyping phase NewForesight was assigned to act as the OCA secretariat and further shape and drive the strategy, structure, and activities. In the prototyping phase, OCA will enable a viable business case for organic cotton, both for producers and the industry, by understanding and improving essential conditions. OCA will align sector front-runners on priority issues, identifies systemic and pre-competitive issues, and designs solutions to jointly tackle them. Additionally, OCA will support sharing and acting upon results and best practices to support learning, and work with value chain partners for implementation.
NewForesight will support OCA in building a strong platform to convene the sector around a shared strategy and goals, as well as develop, support and roll out different interventions at the supply and demand side. This involves the development of a traceability system, as well as coordinated action and support with regard to organic farmers’ access to seeds, training & organization, and finance. Additionally, NewForesight will explore the feasibility of other interventions to grow organic cotton supply and demand.
Together with OCA companies NewForesight constructed the building blocks for a prosperous organic cotton market including a vision for organic cotton, based on a viable business case for the whole value chain. Building on that vision we developed a set of interventions and started mobilizing the resources to transform the sector. Besides creating an enabling environment that would (financially) support OCA’s efforts, the contours of an organization that can successfully implement are in place. Building on this knowledge, NewForesight will continue to support OCA in the prototyping phase.