Primark has announced it is expanding a sustainable cotton sourcing programme to key suppliers in Pakistan, after more than 4.4 million pairs of pyjamas made with the cotton were sold by the retailer in the UK over the last 12 months. One in three pairs of women's pyjamas purchased in the UK comes from Primark.
In India, more than 6000 independent cotton farmers are enrolled in Primark's Sustainable Cotton programme. And plans to recruit another 10,000 female smallholder farmers to the programme over the next five years. Primark is working with CottonConnect – agricultural experts that also worked with the retailer to assist Indian farmers – and local NGO REEDS (the Rural Education and Economic Development Society), to introduce the programme into Pakistan.
Pakistan is the world's fourth largest cotton grower. Primark has enrolled 20,000 farmers from the country onto the sourcing programme. By 2022, Primark envisions that more than 30,000 farmers across Pakistan and India will be trained in sustainable farming methods. Once the crops in Pakistan are ready, Primark will expand the product categories that use sustainably sourced cotton.
So far, more than 6,000 farmers have benefitted from training through the programme, which has helped rural female farmers in India increase average profits by 200%.
The programme trains farmers to minimise their environmental impact while boosting income through aspects like seed selection, pest management and grading and storing of harvested cotton. As well as reducing input costs for farmers by more than 19%, a 40% reduction in the use of chemical fertiliser and a 10% decrease in water use has benefitted the local environment. Primark announced in March 2016 that it was scaling up the initiative to recruit a further 10,000 female smallholder farmers in India onto the programme over the next six years.