The fashion retailer, with more than 360 stores in eleven countries, announced the new jeans this week. Primark has been investing in its supply chain as part of a wider move towards sustainably sourced cotton through its Sustainable Cotton Programme, which was launched in India in 2013.
The programme helps farmers grow cotton using more natural farming methods, including minimising the use of chemical pesticides and reducing water consumption, whilst also increasing their incomes. Following the expansion of the programme into Pakistan last year, Primark has announced that more than 28,000 farmers across both markets have now enrolled in the training. Early year one results recorded in Pakistan are promising, with farmers’ profits already increasing. They are also starting to see average reductions of more than 20% in chemical pesticide and fertiliser use and more than 15% in water use.
Developed in partnership with agricultural experts CottonConnect, and local NGOs SEWA (the Self‐ Employed Women’s Association) in India and REEDS (the Rural Education and Economic Development Society) in Pakistan, the programme trains farmers in the most appropriate farming techniques for their land. This ranges from seed selection, sowing, soil, water, pesticide and pest management, to picking, fibre quality, grading and storage of the harvested cotton.
“We have been working with Primark since this programme was first launched 2013,” Alison Ward, CEO at CottonConnect. “Not only are we materially changing the lives of farmers and their families in rural cotton communities, but by working closely with Primark and their supply chain partners we have been able to trace the cotton all the way from the farm into products – a challenging but important step towards increased supply chain transparency.”
“These jeans are an important step as we aim to introduce sustainable cotton across our entire product range,” Katharine Stewart, Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Director at Primark. “For us, the aims of the programme are three‐fold: to help reduce the impact of cotton production on the environment, to equip farmers with the skills they need to improve their livelihoods and to offer our customers sustainable products at a great price.”
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