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Primark opens sustainable cotton sourcing project in Pakistan

Primark gives details of its pioneering program as it announces plans to expand production into neighboring Pakistan.

Desk Report

Primark, an Irish clothing and accessories retailer, is expanding a sustainable cotton sourcing program to one of the key suppliers to Pakistan.

Primark opens sustainable cotton sourcing project to Pakistan
Figure: Primark sustainable cotton initiative is expanding to Pakistan. Courtesy: Reuters

Primark was first established in Dublin in 1969 and currently has over 340 stores across the UK, Ireland, Europe, and the USA. Like almost every other fashion retailer on the high street, Primark clothes are made in countries including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and China. Primark, a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), has invested significant sums into the Bangladesh Accord and works with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) to improve environmental stewardship and human rights across the value chain.

At first, Primark launched sustainable cotton sourcing program in Gujarat (Northern India) in 2013. More than six thousand independent cotton farmers were enrolled in the program from Gujarat and an average profit has almost increased to 200 percent for those who completed the training. Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton grower. By looking at profit percentage, Primark decided to expand the project to Pakistan.

Primark is very proud of the sustainable cotton program and Primark is delighted to be able to use our experience in India to help, train and support the farming community in Pakistan.

Katharine Stewart, Director of Ethical Trade

According to Primark, 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. Already with additional 20,000 farmers are enrolled in Primark’s sustainable program. In next step, Primark has been working with Cotton Connect who works with brands and retailer to enable them to develop a more robust and resilient cotton supply chain and alongside local NGO REEDS (the Rural Education and Economic Development Society) to initiate the program.

The Sustainable Cotton Program was developed to find a way to have sustainable cotton from farmers to store and extending the reach of independent cotton farmers. The initiative also means that by starting at the very beginning of the supply chain, Primark can trace the cotton through every stage of the supply chain, from farming to the supplier’s factory floor to Primark shelves in the store. By extending the program to Pakistan it is expected to help farmers there also increase of profit and yield, while giving the farmers appropriate farming techniques for their land, from seed selection, sowing, soil, water, pesticide and pest management, to picking, fiber quality, grading and storage of the harvested cotton.

Farmers participated in this program had these following results within three years:


Primark expands Sustainable Cotton Programme into second major sourcing country

Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Director, Katharine Stewart said, “Primark is very proud of the sustainable cotton program and Primark is delighted to be able to use our experience in India to help, train and support the farming community in Pakistan.”

Katharine Stewart also said, “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 percent sustainable cotton in our supply chain.”

Primark published a ‘Global Sourcing Map’ detailing information on supplier sites – covering factory names, location, number of workers and gender split – across 31 countries.

Over the last 12 months, the company has sold 4.4 million pairs of pajamas in the UK made with the cotton from the pioneering program in Gujarat, Northern India.

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