Fashion For Good partners with Arvind to pilot resource-efficient cotton farming technology

Fashion For Good partners with Arvind to pilot resource-efficient cotton farming technology

Fashion for Good launches a new, two-year pilot project in collaboration with leading brands Kering and PVH Corp. and leading global textile manufacturer Arvind Limited to pilot a radically resource-efficient cotton farming technology.

Cotton makes up nearly 30 per cent of global textile production,
yet accounts for 24 per cent of global insecticide use and being a water
intensive crop, can require up to 10.000 litres of water per kilogram in its
cultivation. Innovation in cotton farming practices is greatly needed to reduce
pesticide, land and water use.

 

Fashion for Good launches a new, two-year pilot project in
collaboration with leading brands Kering and PVH Corp and leading global
textile manufacturer Arvind Limited to pilot a radically resource-efficient
cotton farming technology provided by Fashion for Good innovator, Materra
(formerly hydroCotton). Materra’s innovative combination of precision
agriculture, environmental control and real-time data tracking facilitate
resilience for cotton farming in developing regions where climate and resources
prove challenging for cotton cultivation.

 

Katrin Ley,
Managing Director, Fashion for Good
, said“38 per cent of the fashion industry’s carbon footprint lies
with raw materials production, preparation and processing, innovations in this
area such as radically resource efficient cotton farming, a staple fibre for
the industry, is hugely important. This consortium pilot project brings
together unique expertise from across the supply chain to pilot and ultimately
scale this solution in key regions.”

 

In addition to their operational support, Kering, PVH Corp. and
Arvind Limited provide the financial backing to enable the two year project.
The project leverages Arvind’s local knowledge and network with a 1.5 hectare
farm being set up in the Gujarat region in India. Fashion for Good initiated
and will manage the project in addition to financing the project through an
equity investment in Materra.

 

“Materra’s innovation brings in producing extra long staple cotton
in India, as well as the live production data that will be gathered throughout
the pilot. This aligns with Kering’s goals in both raw materials,  which makes up 65 per cent of the Kering
Group’s overarching environmental footprint, and traceability, helping us move
towards achieving our goal of reducing our overall footprint by 40 per cent by
2025,” said, Christine Goulay, Head of
Sustainable Innovation, Kering.

 

The farm will grow extra-long staple cotton, which is often used
in more high-end products, and provides the region with opportunities to
explore implementing the fibre that has historically not been grown in large
volumes in Northern India as its cultivation requires specific climatic
conditions that are only met in a limited number of regions. The cotton
generated on the farm, which will total 3 tonnes by the completion of the
project, will be divided amongst the three partners to produce garments that
will be made commercially available from 2023.

 

Testing and adopting leading edge sustainable cotton innovations,
such as Materra’s, is central to expanding our sustainable product offerings
for our consumers. It’s also an enabler in fulfilling our enterprise-wide
commitment to procure 100 per cent sustainable cotton by 2025. We’re looking
forward to featuring this cotton in future Calvin Klein products”- Aksel Parmaksiz, Senior VP Sustainable
Business Transformation at Calvin Klein
(Part of PVH Corp.) 

 

Radically
rethinking cotton farming

“We see Materra’s solution as playing an integral role in our
future sourcing strategy. Their technology combines precision agriculture and
controlled environments to create a radically resource-efficient cotton farm.
This results in reductions in water, land use and carbon emissions, as well as
pesticide removal. We are excited to be collaborating with our fellow Fashion
for Good partners on this consortium project and look forward to scaling this
solution in our supply chain,” said, Abhishek
Bansal, Head of Sustainability, Arvind Limited.

 

More than 60 per cent of the world’s cotton is produced by
smallholder cotton farmers, around 90 per cent of these estimated 100 million
smallholder farmers live in developing countries and grow the crop on less than
two hectares. Under poor management practices, cotton can contribute to
over-consumption of water, fertilisers and pesticides. Innovation in farming
practices such as precision agriculture improve resource efficiency and
resilience for cotton farming.

 

Materra’s approach to cotton farming combines precision
agriculture and controlled environments to create radically resource-efficient
cotton farms. Efficient irrigation, preventing excess water loss, delivers
agricultural inputs directly to the plant’s root system where they can be
efficiently absorbed and is pesticide-free, using biological pest control to
manage pest outbreaks. Farms are equipped with a network of smart sensors to
track data in real-time enabling enhanced environmental and social assurance.

Over the last 2 years, Materra has run three consecutive cotton
trials at their UK test site in Essex. These trials allowed them to generate their
initial cotton growth recipe, create production baselines and run fibre tests
with mills. The aim of this pilot is to test their farming approach in the
Gujarat cotton-growing region in India. The farm will initially focus on this
region where there are limited solutions for successful pest control and
limited success growing extra long-staple cotton.

 

“We are beyond excited to announce the launch of this consortium
pilot in collaboration with Fashion for Good, Arvind Limited, Kering and PVH
Corp. Through this project we will be able to test our farming approach in
India, working closely with farmers on the ground to design and implement
real-time data tracking. Working with these partners enables us to draw on a
wealth of industry experience, looking to move beyond the pilot to full scale
implementation,” said Edward Brial, CEO
of Materra.

 

Next Steps

Officially kicking off today, the next three months of the pilot
will focus on installing the pilot farm to be ready for planting in April, with
the first harvest taking place towards the end of the year.

 

The pilot includes collating data and key learnings to identify
the next best location for the team to apply the technology. Focus will
predominantly be in regions where cotton agriculture is challenged by limited
resources such as water, few solutions for pest control and limited success at
growing extra long staple cotton. Wide scale implementation of Materra’s
innovation will provide small-scale farms with the positive social benefits of
increasing their yields, as well as enabling them to grow extra long staple
cotton which is commercially more desirable. Simultaneously, it positively
benefits the environment, leading to increased water savings, a reduction in
pesticide use and enhanced traceability in the upstream supply chain.

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