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Teaching Resources

Cotton factfile

Commodity Cotton
Country India is a South Asian country with a population of 1,4 billion. Fairtrade commodities originating there include coffee, tea, cotton, sugar and rice.
Background information Some three quarters of cotton is produced in five countries – China, India, the US, Brazil and Pakistan.


Smallholder farmers are estimated to produce over 70% of the world’s cotton. It is estimated that overall, cotton is produced by some 32 million farmers.


Social issues Cotton farming is a first step in a long, complex and risky supply chain, where most of the profits are kept by international companies and brands.


Smallholder cotton farming is labour-intensive and farmers typically do not earn a living income. For this reason it can use bad practices such as child labour, overuse of pesticides and dependency on high-interest credit sources.


Environmental issues The cotton plant is vulnerable to shifting rainfalls and extreme heat waves. Changing weather patterns – including dry spells, delayed monsoons and floods – are already affecting cotton farmers in South Asia and in several other production areas.


In future, climate change can devastate both cotton crops and the farmers who grow them.

Why is Fairtrade important?


Fairtrade works with the small-scale cotton farmers in Asia and Africa and helps build stronger farmer-owned organisations. This is important because farmers can achieve a lot more together as a group in negotiations.


Fairtrade encourages sustainable cotton production and is the only standard to provide economic benefits, through a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price and additional Fairtrade Premium for seed cotton farmers.


Where to buy Fairtrade bananas Arthur & Henry, Cotton Smiles, Dedicated, Dip & Doze, Koolskools, Little Green Radicals, Sainsbury’s, Sleep Organic, Turtle Bags, White & Greem, White Stuff, Y.O.U Underwear

Join us on Twitter at  @FairtradeUKEd