Project - Fair Cotton Co-operative Alliance
FAIR COTTON CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE
LEDS has initiated the formation of an alliance of various Cooperatives and worker owned firms engaged in the cotton farming-textile production and garment manufacturing value chain, such that they produce organic and fair trade products for the domestic and international fair trade markets. This alliance would ensure better returns for workers and farmers involved in the cotton value chain, who are amongst the most vulnerable in India.
This project has three basic goals:
(a) the most immediate goal is to bring together existing cooperatives and women-owned firms working in cotton farming, textile production and garment manufacturing to form an alliance which will produce Fair Trade and organic cotton products (e.g., the Fair Cotton Cooperative Alliance). This alliance will draw upon its existing strengths to develop product lines for export in the Fair Trade and organic markets. It will also be able to compete in other affinity markets which may favour alternative forms of production (e.g., cooperative retailers), but which need products which cannot be certified Fair Trade and organic (e.g., they require cotton-polyester blends).
(b) the second goal is for the alliance to develop its own women’s Fair Trade and organic brand for cotton goods (e.g., Our Fair Ladies’ Cooperative Cotton). This brand will focus primarily, though not exclusively, on apparel (for university and school markets) and the bed and bath market (especially for institutional actors, e.g., hospitals). Given its unique selling point as an all-women Fair Trade and organic cotton chain, the brand should be especially competitive among public institutions which have ethical and/or sustainable purchasing policies. The development of such a brand will require the alliance to set standards for participation by women in products that are produced under the brand.
(c) The longer-term goal of the project is to extend cooperation among women’s groups beyond the brand and the value chain to create a broad network of cooperatives and women-owned firms with their own certification program (and label) for gender empowerment.