We, Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development (GVK Society), are a NGO-social enterprise hybrid working for sustainable agriculture causes in India and beyond. We design and implement community-driven initiatives that optimize value for peasant farmers and other downtrodden rural households.
The Regenerate the Environment Society and Economy through Textiles project (RESET) builds the world’s first regenerative cotton value chain that tackles climate change and improves the living standards of small farmers. We will be reaching out to 15.000 farmers within the coming 5 years. At present we are scaling up to 1000 farmers in more than 60 villages for the 2019 growing season that starts in June. We believe that cotton farming doesn’t need to be the problem of the textile industry. Instead, it can be the solution. We offer regenerative organic under conversion cotton that regenerates ecosystems and empowers smallholder tribal women farmers in South India.
The problem with Indian cotton
Contemporary cotton production and consumption is unsustainable and leads to poverty and ecological degradation. In India, cotton farming occupies only 6% of the arable land, but consumes over 50% of the country’s agricultural pesticides. In addition, one T-shirt from Indian cotton easily requires 3000 liters of water to grow and 94% of Indian cotton is grown using genetically modified seeds (GMOs) drastically reducing varieties being used.
Looking at the social-economic context: cotton farmers in India are controlled by unreliable markets and lack negotiating power. Over 300,000 of debt-ridden Indian cotton farmers committed suicide in a decade. Especially tribal female farmers, often illiterate and without proper access to markets, are highly vulnerable.
Our regenerative cotton solution
With the RESET project, we apply a holistic systems approach that encourages continual on-farm innovation for environmental, social, and economic well-being. We do this through different strategies:
- Regenerative farming.
With regenerative farming we reduce the water consumption from 3000 litres per T-shirt to 300 litres moving from irrigated to rainfed farming systems. In addition, the regenerative RESET project reduces carbon emission and stores carbon in the soil. And we focus on building soil health and organic matter to support healthy plant growth, eliminating the use of chemical inputs and GMO’s, increasing biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, increasing water holding capacity and reduce runoff and soil erosion. We believe in a positive impact and a positive footprint.
- Farmer training
Throughout the growing season up until harvest, farmers are being supported in trainings on regenerative crop management. The RESET project drastically reduces farm expenditure by training farmers how to make natural, plant-based inputs instead of relying on expensive and harmful chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Farmers are provided with non-GMO seeds and are offered committed buying with a premium above market price.
- Market access
Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development (GVK Society), an NGO – Social Enterprise hybrid, joined hands with U.S. based ethical fashion brand MetaWear, founded by Marci Zaroff in the establishment of RESET. GVK Society implements the farm program, markets and produces the regenerative, transitional and organic cotton from yarn until garment level.
After harvest, the RESET project commits to purchase the regenerative organic under conversion cotton from farmers with a premium above market price. The cotton is then ginned by supply chain partners and spun into yarn, fabrics and garments.
What we offer
The RESET project offers regenerative in conversion organic cotton (NOP/NPOP certification) at yarn level, fabric level and garment level. Last year RESET has been working with 235 farmer families in 26 villages Vizianagaram and Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, India. This cotton is currently used for the production of 30.000 crew T-shirts for a big festival in Europe. For 2019 we aim to work with 1000 farmer families in 60 villages. We envision a harvest of around 900 MT of raw cotton, which would result into 300 MT of lint and sufficient cotton for around 900.000 T-shirts. We also take small orders and can cater for specific needs.
We know our farmers and are able to give full transparency in cotton production. Potential users of our cotton are even invited to come and visit the farmers in the villages and we can allocate villages to uniquely. The RESET project provides with impact stories, photographs and videos. Our webpage and Instagram also offer more information.
We are an Indian-Dutch team, working from India, and are always happy to answer any questions you might have!