Representatives of agriculture, processing, retail and fair trade expressed their statements related to the two main questions:
What have been the drivers at your business to move towards organic?
What are the main challenges you are dealing with?
Christina Boecker (Sekem)
Why Sekem started to produce organic cotton?
Driven by farmers, who addressed their concerns and problems in agriculture of cotton (related to pesticide use, yield decreases, etc.)
Driven by the Ministry of Agriculture (as cotton is economically very important for Egypt, the pesticide consumption problem needed to be solved, because cost and demand were far to high. Hence, the Ministry prohibited the application by air plain and supported integrated pest management systems).
Peter Tschannen (Remei AG)
The important goal for Remei is to create social responsible and environmental friendly (organic) products. Social relationships and premium prices for the farmers have to be ensured and have first priority.
Phil Chamberlain (C&A)
Moving towards organic was CSR driven and a decision on board level. Meanwhile consumers show much more awareness and created demand on organic products.
Internal challenges are to get everybody in line with the organic strategy (e.g. buyers have to learn that only specific and limited producers are offering the required quality and products).
External challenge is the communication with all involved parties and building up efficiency in the value chain. This could be achieved by reducing the premiums at manufacturer/processing level and assuring the premiums for farmers for example.
Dieter Overath (Transfair Germany)
Fair Trade / FLO, Transfair, Max Havelaar harmonized their standard and all use the same fair trade standard. Unfortunately, the word “fair” is used inflationary.
Challenges: presently fair trade certification is focused the organic cotton fibre production/agriculture only and not yet the further processing. Working towards a fully certified production chain for textile products is the challenge of the next years. However, this will be possible to achieve without significant increases of prices for end products (Lidl, a German discounter sells successfully Fair Trade products even under the price competition).