With organic fibre-based clothing emerging as a niche product category for global apparel majors such as Marks & Spencer, Timberland and Nike, organised cultivation of organic cotton has taken roots in a big way in the state.
Around 1,000 cotton growers in Rapar taluk of Gujarat's Kutch district have been granted 'organic' certification by Agrocel, an agricultural services provider controlled by the Shroff family of Excel Industries Ltd.
The growers signing up with Agrocel have had to follow a five-step process of changeover from conventional pesticide-based farming to organic cultivation of cotton.
These involve methods such as planting trap crops such as maize (which can attract bollworms and other insect pests away from cotton into areas where they can be controlled before they infest cotton) and attracting beneficial insects such as grasshoppers and bees. Also, they have to reduce usage of fertilisers and pesticides.
Shell Foundation has provided the seed capital for Agrocel's project in Kutch. The Foundation's role does not stop at funding and ensuring that the cotton grown gets organic certification through bodies like Skal International. It works through the entire supply chain, right from the field to the ginners, spinning mills, fabric processors, garment manufacturers and the final buyers.The fibre from the 1,000-odd certified organic growers of Kutch is being sourced by apparel chains such as Marks & Spencer and Gossypium.