Reliable data about the production, trade and consumption of organic cotton are difficult to establish. Independent data from third-party certifiers are not available for reasons of commercial confidentiality. Differences between the declared and the real volumes of traded organic fibre can be significant.
The data presented in this chapter stem from a variety of sources, including documentary and Internet research, interviews and electronic contacts with about 130 actors in the organic cotton textile chain, attendance at trade fairs for cotton and textiles, and participation in the 2006 conference of the organic cotton business network Organic Exchange.
The data presented are based on self-declarations and claims of projects and companies, and on additional ‘best guesses’ by the author. Today, certified organic cotton is grown in 22 countries in the world.
12 Total production of and trade in organic cotton fibre is estimated at 23,000 tons in 2006.13 Earlier estimates in 2001 and 2004 amounted to 6,000–6,500 tons and 10,000 tons of fibre respectively (Ton, 2002; Ton, 2005). Production growth was an annual 70% over the period 2001–2006, and has reached 120% per year since 2004. Despite this spectacular growth, the volume of organic fibre traded on the international market still represents only 0.09% of the 24.8 million tons of cotton fibre traded worldwide. Organic cotton production is concentrated in Turkey (10,000 tons of fibre; 43% of total production) and India (6,500 tons of fibre; 28%), where growth has recently also been most spectacular. Together they now produce more than 70% of the world organic cotton supply.
Other relevant producers in terms of volume are China (1,750 tons; 8%) and the United States (1,500 tons; 7%).The African countries together accounted for about 1,800 tons of fibre in 2006, or 8% of total production, mainly in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania,14 but also in Egypt and in Frenchspeaking West Africa (Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin). Countries that recently started or restarted organic cotton production are Australia, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa and Zambia.
It should be noted that more than half of the global production of organic cotton fibre is in the hands of one single organic cotton projects.Eco-Farms.Eco Farms is in Maharashtra, India, with a claimed 4,000 tons of cotton fibre in 2006. Eco-Farms plans to expand production to 6,000–7,000 tons of fibre in 2007.
This high concentration of production in two single projects points to the vulnerability of the supply of organic cotton fibre. The performance of these two projects in terms of quality, price, reliability of supply, control and certification, and transparency, may determine the future of the global organic cotton market in the short and medium term
All but one conventional farmer utilized both irrigated and dryland acreage to produce cotton in crop year 2007, while less than half of the organic sample devoted both their irrigated and dryland portions to organic cotton. The rest have chosen to produce cotton under one ecosystem only. Irrigated farms that produced cotton have average size that range from 348 to 438 acres across farming systems, while farms under dryland conditions were planted to an average of 508 to 627 acres (table 1). An important caveat if that combining the data collected on irrigated and dryland farm sizes does not depict the aggregate agricultural landholding per farmer. .
On average, sample organic farmers have 10 years of experience under organic farming method. Prior to engaging in organic practices, these farmers have been growing cotton using non-organic methods with a mean of 23 years while conventional farmer sample has started a bit earlier with 26 years mean cotton farming experience. Farmerís mean ages across cotton farming methods ranged from 47 to 52 years. In addition, majority of the organic producers have attained a Bachelorís Degree (64%), about 27% have reached some college, and 9% got a high school diploma. Likewise, much of the conventional cotton growers acquired a Bachelorís Degree (43%), leaving the rest equally divided into those who have attended college (29%) and had a Graduate Degree (29%).
The prospects and demand for organic farming products are on the rise as consumers become more ecologically concerned and health conscious. This is apparent in the steady growth of the organic food market in the U.S. with sales growing at an annual rate of 20.9% in 2006, and the non-food sector closely tracking this trend (Organic Trade Association, 2007). Moreover, a Manufacturer Survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) in 2003 showed that the overall US sales growth from organic fiber products are starting to outpace sales growth of organic food. OTA (2004) recorded nearly 23% growth in sales to reach $85 million annually. Such expansion in the organic fiber market is backed by a 35% annual average estimated growth rate in the global retail sales of organic products (Organic Exchange, 2006).
U.S. cotton farmers, particularly those located in the Texas High Plains (THP), have responded by planting more organic cotton, and expanding the amount of land undergoing conversion from conventional farming to organic. In 2001, THP comprised about 73% of the total U.S. certified and transitional cotton fiber acreage (Guerena and Sullivan, 2003), and consistently leads organic cotton production (OTA 2004, 2006). In addition, the organic cotton fiber has established an important market niche for which Texas has developed its capability through state developed certification standards and an organic cotton marketing cooperative.
For cotton to be labeled and sold as organic, it must be certified by an independent organization subject to a set of organic production standards. Elimination of synthetically compounded chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, defoliants and other chemical inputs is required under these standards. However, application and certification initially requires substantial costs and time. Cotton growers who decide to convert to organic methods must undergo a three-year transition from conventional production practices before their farms are certified as organic
In spite of the many ecological advantages and farmer health benefits that come from farming organically (Lampkin and Padel 1994; PAN UK 2005; Myers and Stolton 1999), profit is still considered as the best incentive for most farmers to engage in a particular faming system. However, knowledge about profitability of organic cotton enterprise particularly in the U.S. is limited. This limitation is understandable since it is a fairly new area of activity (approximately eighteen years). Although aggregate organic cotton acreage and production data is available from OTA, Organic Exchange, and USDA, pertinent farm-level information specific to organic cotton is warranted.
Given the dominant role played by the Texas High Plains in the US organic cotton industry and the limited literature on the actual performance of the enterprise, it would be useful to assess the profitability of organic production through costs and returns analysis of both organically-produced and conventional cotton. Efforts to provide a basis for any improvement in this segment of U.S. agriculture is also extended to measure the technical efficiency of cotton farmers. Measuring the degree of organic cotton growersí success in attaining maximum output given the resources available to them is explored to prop up the economic competitiveness, or otherwise, of adopting organic techniques. Tzuovelekas, Pantzios, and Fotopoulos (1997) has noted that determining farm efficiency would also allow for determining farm potentials for raising productivity and improving resource use. Hence, profitability and efficiency measurements allow us to evaluate the viability of organic method of producing cotton as an alternative system.
This article aims to produce a comprehensive analysis of the potential economic costs, and returns of organic cotton production in Texas High Plains; to estimate the technical efficiency of the sample organic and conventional cotton farms in Texas High Plains; and, to identify the factors contributing to farm efficiency.
The availability of this information will support better informed decisions by current producers and users of this organic fiber. Furthermore, understanding of the production and marketing aspects of the organic cotton industry, particularly the cost structures, also allow non-organic producers and consumers to more clearly see the potentials of growing and consuming organic cotton.