WWF – Pakistan’s Sustainable Agriculture Programme signed a MoU with Pakistan Cotton Standards Institute (PCSI), Ministry of Textile. The objective of this partnership is to introduce standardisation of cotton among the participating ginning SMEs and bring it at par with the internationally accepted standards for improving the competitiveness of Pakistan’s raw cotton as well as ensuring better returns to cotton farmers, ginners, spinners, exporters and the national economy. Specifically, the agreement aims to support activities that promote capacity building of the ginning industry with reference to maintaining cotton fiber quality parameters.
Pakistan is the 5th largest producer of cotton, 3rd largest exporter of the raw cotton, 4th largest consumer of cotton and largest exporter of cotton yarn. Despite its significance, cotton has a large environmental footprint. It consumes pesticides, chemical fertilizers and water in excess throughout the cropping cycle while at ginneries excessive use of energy and inefficient production processes are common.
WWF - Pakistan is the country’s largest environmental non-profit organisation working to stop the degradation and conservation of natural resources. Under Market Transformation Initiative of WWF - Intl, WWF - Pakistan is working on various cotton projects under its Sustainable Agriculture Programme since 1999. In 2010, Pakistan was declared as the Pioneer country in producing ‘Better Cotton’ in 2010. This work is in collaboration with ‘Better Cotton Initiative’ (BCI), which is an international multi-stakeholder initiative with the objective of globally raising the sustainability standard of conventional cotton and making it available in large volumes to mainstream retailers.
WWF-Pakistan has recently signed a project agreement with European Union Switch-Asia Programme titled ‘Sustainable cotton production in Pakistan’s cotton ginning SMEs’ which will help further expand the work of BCI. Through SWITCH-ASIA, WWF-Pakistan aims to expand its efforts further up the supply chain and specifically target cotton ginning SMEs in Pakistan to ensure the development of a sustainable cotton supply chain from the farm to final product.
Through this project, it is aimed that at least 500 cotton ginning SMEs in Pakistan recognise the benefits of sustainable cotton production and consumption and 40% of these commit to more sustainable production practices, in line with agreed better ginning practice guidelines, and supported by the procurement practices of European retailers.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest Mr. Shahid Rasheed, Federal Secretary, MINTEX said that the current context marked by the increased interest of global cotton brands in sourcing sustainable cotton, current project provides an opportunity to local textile industry to align itself against global standards. He particularly insisted on the importance to develop concrete projects that involve building the capacity of textile industry in resource conservation & value addition.
Dr. Ghulam Akbar, Senior Director Programmes WWF - Pakistan underlined that the promotion of better ginning practices for better quality cotton will work as an instrument of sustainability in the textile sector of Pakistan benefiting thousands of better cotton farmers, ginning SMEs & textile processing sector.
Mr. Arif H. Makhdum, Director-Sustainable Agriculture Programme WWF - Pakistan thanked Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, Joint Director-PCSI for his extended support in planning phase of the SWITCH Asia project and hoped that if these standards are implemented and maintained throughout the supply chain then Pakistan’s better cotton can attain better price in international market.
WWF - Pakistan and Pakistan Cotton Standards Association will jointly undertake activities pertaining particularly cotton fiber quality & standards related issues to promote better ginning practices among the cotton ginning SMEs of Pakistan.