There's good news, bad news, and some really bad news for organic cotton. The good news is that organic cotton fibre production registered a 37% growth in 2020–21 over the previous year. The bad news is that only 1.4% of all cotton grown is estimated to have been organic.
- The real bad news is this: the 'data confidence' levels shown in the report indicate a 'low' rating. In other words, everything needs to be accepted with a pinch of salt.
- The numbers come from Textile Exchange's latest Organic Cotton Market Report 2022, that has just been published.
- This is the fifth year in a row that global organic cotton production has increased. The rapid growth in demand for organic cotton has no doubt played a pivotal role in this growth, with prices reaching an all-time high.
- This encourages both existing organic farmers to grow a higher proportion of cotton, and previously non-organic farmers to convert to organic production methods, the report remarked.
The production summary: Based on TE's estimates, the 2020–21 global harvest saw 342,265 tonnes of organic cotton fibre produced on 621,691 hectares of certified organic land, and 180,726 tonnes of in-conversion fibre produced on 293,204 hectares of land in-conversion to organic. Compared to 2019–20, this represents an estimated 37% growth in organic fibre.
- With overall cotton production reported by International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) in 2020–21 totaling 24,380,507 tonnes, this means that 1.4% of all cotton grown is estimated to have been organic.
Producer countries: The total number of countries growing certified organic cotton in 2020–21 remained at 21, but there were some changes in the line-up.
- The projects in Thailand, Myanmar, and Senegal didn’t produce any certified organic cotton in 2020–21 due to flooding, political instability, and certification issues.
- However, two new countries—Spain and Kazakhstan—grew organic cotton for the first time, and Argentina came back into certification.
- An estimated 97% of global organic cotton was produced by just eight countries in 2020–21:-India (38%), Turkey (24%), China (10%), Kyrgyzstan (9%), Tanzania (6%), Kazakhstan (4%), Tajikistan (4%), and the US (2%). The remaining 13 organic cotton-producing countries accounted for 3%.
Little confidence in the data: Of the 21 countries listed in the report, five were marked with a 'high' data confidence level: United States, Pakistan, Peru, Brazil and Argentina.
- As many as 11 countries had a 'medium' marking.
- The overall rankings were brought down by four of the top five biggest producers of organic cotton: India, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Uganda too figured in this list.