You're someone who adores cotton garments. And why wouldn't you be? It's a natural, breathable, biodegradable fiber well-loved by sustainability enthusiasts all around. But what if we told you that the cotton you're buying is jeopardizing the health of farmers in India? Indian cotton growers are falling ill or going into deep debt to help produce the clothing that we love. The situation has now become so grave that thousands of farmers are ending their lives due to illness or low profits.
That's why where you buy your clothes matters. Does the brand you're buying from support fair pay for cotton farmers? Do they value the well-being of farmers over profits?
At Passion Lilie, we support raising prices for cotton farmers so they can see profits. We take a human-centered approach to crafting clothes and put the health of farmers first. With the global pandemic, we're witnessing a spike in demand and low yields which have upped cotton prices for the first time in a decade. Indian cotton farmers are able to feel some small and rare relief at this time. But the cotton price hikes have also drawn outcry from others within the cotton supply chain.
Read on to learn about the cotton price hike and why Passion Lilie stands with Indian cotton farmers.
What Is the Current Narrative Around the Cotton Price Increase in India?
Because more people are shopping now, we're seeing an increased demand for cotton worldwide while a drop in Indian cotton output is raising prices. In fact, Indian cotton prices have jumped 60% in the last six months alone, allowing farmers to see some profit. But many textile manufacturers in India currently oppose the price increase.
Fabric mills state the cotton price increase...
- Forces them to raise their own prices and risk losing business
- Makes them unable to compete with cheaper cotton factories abroad
- Forces them to close down or pay high fees to import cotton from other countries to meet fabric demands
But we know farmers are not at fault for the sudden price increase. If anything, these are the rates they should have earned all along. When you buy clothing from brands, like ours, that support raising cotton prices, you support farmers who are some of the most vulnerable to exploitation in the cotton value chain. You're taking a stand with your purchase. Because going back to previous low cotton prices would leave these farmers uncompensated, which is unethical.
Here's why we at Passion Lilie support Indian cotton farmers receiving fair compensation.
Why Do Indian Farmers Need Cotton Prices to Increase Now?
If you're reading this, you're probably a conscious consumer yourself. And you strongly believe that no one should ever have to lose their life for us to enjoy our clothes. Yet in India, there are at least 44 farmer suicides every day because of the high cost of cotton production and decades of low prices. Indian farmers need cotton prices to increase now or they’ll have to take on more debt to keep their farms afloat.
If cotton prices stay low, farmers can't profit, and many will end their lives when they can't pay back their debts.
Passion Lilie believes these tragedies should never have to occur. That's why we encourage you to stand with Indian cotton farmers, as raising prices will allow farmers to profit from their harvest.
How the Cotton Price Hike Benefits Indian Farmers and Their Families
1. Indian Cotton Farmers Can Profit
Supporting higher cotton prices means Indian farmers can take on less debt and profit, reducing the chances that they'll resort to extreme measures like suicide. As production costs have risen 500% in the last two decades, while prices remained low, farmers typically received the short end of the stick. But now that cotton prices in India are at a 10-year high, we're seeing what's possible when farmers are paid fair prices.
With higher cotton prices, farmers can cover...
- Rising seed costs
- The cost of hiring manual laborers to harvest the cotton
- Living expenses
Since cotton traditionally requires heavy pesticide use, farmers would often become ill from exposure to chemicals. At Passion Lilie, we put the health of cotton farmers first with organic and pesticide-free garments. Your support of our brand enables farmers to work in a healthy environment. And raising cotton prices for all allows Indian farmers to take better care of their health.
The recent cotton price hikes mean Indian farmers will be able to see a return on their investment. They won't be forced to sell to private buyers at prices far below the government standard or take on more debt. And this will likely lessen the harmful cycle of farmer deaths.
2. Women and Children Are Better Supported
You're a consumer who values true sustainability, so you know that raising cotton prices is not only an ethics issue but a deeper gender issue. In India, women actually make up the majority of cotton laborers but rarely ever own land in their own name. If financial outcomes appear bleak for men in the cotton industry, women receive far less as they make 25%-50% less per day than their male counterparts. In addition to manual labor, women are also expected to handle childcare and chores. All with little to no help from the men in their households.
We at Passion Lilie recognize that increasing cotton prices doesn't resolve the gender wage gap issue or power imbalances. But — raising cotton prices does raise the amount that women can earn. More money for farmers may lead to more money in the hands of women who serve as key workers in the cotton fields.
Passion Lilie supports the cotton price increase because it allows women to earn more for themselves and their families.
How You Can Support Indian Cotton Farmers Moving Forward
Given that low cotton prices have led to many farmer deaths, it's clear that prices must rise from the bottom up. From farmers to textile manufacturers to fashion brands. Ultimately reaching you, the consumer, to reflect the true cost of cotton labor. Ways to support Indian cotton farmers are through education, advocacy, and calling for cotton price increases. We must be willing to pay more for our garments and value them more.
Another way to support Indian cotton farmers is to buy from brands, like ours, that support fair pay for farmers. Our garments are never mass-produced but slowly crafted so that the cotton that Indian farmers have labored to grow doesn't go to waste. And we're proud to partner with teams in India that share our values and support the cotton price hikes. We only source cotton from small mills that meet our sustainability and ethical goals.
You can view our organic and ethical cotton collections here.