The number of countries producing organic cotton in this region has doubled in recent years and in 2020/21 included Egypt, Greece, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. Greece and Uzbekistan joined the line-up in the last few years, while Spain and Kazakhstan produced their first organic cotton in 2020/21. Israel and Sudan will join the mix in 2021/22.
Turkey was one of the pioneers in organic globally and has been growing and manufacturing organic cotton products for nearly 40 years, due in part to the country retaining its GMO-free status and having a burgeoning domestic organic market. The country remains the largest producer of organic cotton in this region. This region saw a significant increase in production in 2020/21 compared to the previous season. This is partly the result of a shift in consumer’s purchasing behavior, perhaps accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, in favor of more sustainable fibers, particularly organic cotton. This, combined with higher cotton prices generally, triggered a huge increase in demand from brands and retailers. Companies operating in this region believe that interest will continue to grow, but perhaps at a slower pace than in recent years past. Brands and retailers believe prices have reached a point that is difficult to reflect in their sale prices. Also, some are re-evaluating their material portfolios and are looking at other preferred fibers and materials that they perceive as more cost-effective than organic cotton.
The key challenges facing organic cotton farmers in this region are the ever-increasing input prices, poor availability of water for irrigation due to climate change, and, in some areas, food crops being favored over cotton. The Covid-19 pandemic also posed challenges for countries in this region, as it did in most of the world, due to restrictions and long periods of lockdown.
Some governments, for example in Turkey, tried to help farmers suffering yield loss as a result of the pandemic by granting them exemptions from travel restrictions so that they could visit their fields. Organic farmers in Israel have always had an interest in growing cotton, and have grown small quantities in the past. This is not only for financial reasons but also for the agronomic benefits that cotton can bring to the whole organic farming system. Now that the price for organic cotton is better, those that can obtain long-term contracts have decided to grow organic cotton again. Experts at the Israel Cotton Board are researching new approaches that could help farmers achieve improved yields and quality, as well as trying to make the certification process easier for the whole supply chain in Israel.
Turkey 2020/21 organic cotton production In 2020/21, Turkey grew an estimated 80,830 tonnes of organic cotton fiber on 43,329 hectares of certified organic land,1 and 8,988 tonnes of in-conversion fiber on 4,535 hectares of in-conversion land.1,2 Turkey grows organic cotton of medium and long fiber lengths, with production taking place in the Aegean and Southeast Anatolia regions. Turkey accounted for an estimated 23.6% of global organic cotton in 2020/21, while 12.3% of the country’s overall cotton production was estimated to be certified organic. Compared to 2019/20, Turkey experienced a 233% growth in certified fiber volume in 2020/21. The main reason for this extreme growth seen in Turkey is the growing interest from brands and retailers in Turkish organic cotton leading to more attractive prices. Companies do not believe prices will rise much further as this would make the fiber unfeasible to source and other preferred fibers would be selected instead. Another factor is that the Turkish government supports organic cotton by training farmers and paying organic premiums. During Covid-19 lockdowns, farmers were granted exemptions to visit their land. The government also works to build collaborations between farmers and suppliers of organic cotton, and a pilot project is being rolled out in the Aydin region in the 2022/23 season.
https://textileexchange.org/ Organic Cotton Marketing Report 2022