Primark sustainable cotton initiative expands to Pakistan

brett mathews | 22nd September 2018

DUBLIN – UK fast fashion brand Primark says it has now sold 4.4 million pairs of pyjamas made with sustainably grown cotton from its pioneering programme in Gujarat, Northern India. The company gave details of the initiative as it announced plans to expand production into neighbouring Pakistan.

The Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme was designed to train smallholder farmers in sustainable farming methods. Farmers are trained by Cotton Cotton in the most appropriate farming techniques for their land, from seed selection, sowing, soil, water, pesticide and pest management, to picking, fibre quality, grading and storage of the harvested cotton.

With a staggering one in three pairs of women’s pyjamas in the UK bought in Primark, last August Primark introduced sustainably sourced cotton from its initiative into the garments. Twelve months on, 4.4 million pairs of pyjamas made with cotton tracked through the programme from farmers to store have been sold.

In the next step forward for the programme, Primark worked with  Cotton Connect, alongside local NGO REEDS (the Rural Education and Economic Development Society), to introduce the programme into Pakistan. With an additional 20,000 farmers enrolled in the programme in Pakistan, over 30,000 farmers across both sourcing regions will be trained in sustainable farming methods by 2022.

Pakistan is already a key sourcing country for Primark. Shahid Saleem, executive director at REEDS, said: “We’ve been working to try to improve lives within rural communities in Pakistan for 16 years. This is the first time we have partnered with a large clothing retailer on one of our programmes. By partnering with Primark and CottonConnect, we’ll be able to provide support to thousands of farmers and their families in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan.”

Alison Ward, CEO at CottonConnect, said: “We’re delighted to continue our work with Primark to train more cotton farmers in sustainable farming methods. We see huge potential among the farming community in Pakistan, and we look forward to working in close collaboration with REEDS to develop a programme that meets the needs of local cotton farmers.”

Katharine Stewart, ethical trade and environmental sustainability director at Primark, said: “We’re very proud of the Sustainable Cotton Programme, and we’re delighted to be able to use our experience in India to help train and support the farming community in Pakistan. We’ve deliberately targeted regions that are already used by our suppliers, so we can introduce even more cotton grown using sustainable farming methods into our supply chain as soon as possible. Our expansion into Pakistan is the logical next step for us, as we continue to move towards 100 per cent sustainable cotton in our supply chain.”