Today is World Cotton Day and there is naturally nothing more fitting than learning about a new cotton endeavor.

Earlier this year, Artistic Milliners launched a campaign to promote organic cotton from Pakistan. The purpose of this was two-fold: to encourage farmers to adopt environmentally friendly means of production and to address the issues that compromise the integrity of organic cotton certification elsewhere in the world.

The campaign brought spotlight to Baluchistan, the virgin lands of Pakistan, which hold great potential for unadulterated methods of farming. The Government of Pakistan is set to promote Baluchistan as the “Organic Valley” of the country.

Artistic Milliners interaction with its upstream supply chain led the company to first-hand understand the issues and complexity of the cotton supply chain. Cotton travels through many hands, to reach the mills where it is spun into yarns.

Once harvested, it is passed onto cotton pickers (generally women), farmers, middlemen, ginners brokers and finally to the mill owners. At every stage, there is a need of system improvements and transparency.

Milliner Cotton is an unprecedented program that covers the entire cotton supply chain from farm to the mill and calls for visibility of all supply chain participants. It has a very strong social component and direct interventions to empower women cotton pickers and farmers. The program also encompasses capacity building for ginners and calls for elimination of extortionist middlemen.

“There is a plethora of sustainable cotton standards and programs in the market. One very legit question is why a new standard is needed? The answer is simple. Existing cotton standards are focused on a particular area for improvement e.g. in best management practices or at the farm level. There is none that views cotton supply chain as a whole ecosystem and proposes interventions based on the complex inter-relationships of all supply chain players. Milliner Cotton intends to do just that.”  Mr. Omer Ahmed, CEO Artistic Milliners.

The project is in the pilot phase for 3 years and is being run in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan. It is currently run in the Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab, Pakistan. Some of the highlights of the project includes:

  1. Empowerment of women cotton pickers: This is being done via providing life skills training and alternative livelihood program for women. MCI cotton pickers will also be provided with resources like ergonomic 100% cotton picking bags for better picking practices.
  2. Traceability: The project incorporates fiber traceability technologies to minimize end-to-end paper-based chain of custody method and promote traceability through digitization
  3. Technology upgradation: Milliner Cotton provides advisory services to ginners for tech upgradation; and is also exploring mechanical, mor efficient methods of cotton harvesting for women cotton pickers.

Milliner Cotton directly addresses 13 out of 17 SDGs. Artistic Milliners has been a participant of the United Nations Global Compact since 2018 and is also a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles. The company nominated as SDG pioneer by UNGC in 2019. We support the Sustainable Development Goals, which lay out a clear vision for a sustainable future and represent an opportunity to shape a new era for responsible business.

For more information on Milliner Cotton, visit: www.millinercotton.com

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