Nagpur (Maharashtra) [India], November 28: Solidaridad Asia and Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) are set to launch the regenagri Cotton Alliance (rCA) – an alliance of cotton stakeholders – to promote regenerative farming practices in India. The Alliance estimates the adoption of such practices will avoid at least 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030 while improving the livelihood of more than 500,000 smallholder farmers and the agricultural community at large through various partnership projects in India. It is also expected to bring about a positive shift towards sustainable sourcing of cotton by brands and retailers, and will help them in their journey towards net-zero emission.

Agriculture is a sector which is dependent on as well as impacts biodiversity. Land use change associated with agriculture and forestry together accounts for more than 18 % of global GHG emissions. Unsustainable practices in agriculture, especially extracting excess ground water for inefficient irrigation, unscientific application of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, and turning agricultural fields into carbon sources from carbon sinks, are being called out at multiple national and international forums.

Regenerative agriculture is now being considered as a sustainable alternative to conventional agricultural systems, especially for balancing the interests of smallholders with reviving the natural systems for sustainable production. At its core, regenerative agriculture is about restoring degraded soil, improving soil moisture as well as farm biodiversity, which in turn can be a climate change mitigation and resilience strategy.

The aim of the regenagri Cotton Alliance (rCA), which will be jointly managed by CRB and Solidaridad, is to promote regenerative agricultural practices by focusing on:

• Protecting soil health to enhance biodiversity, preserve water resources and help fight climate change in cotton-growing regions of India
• Establishing linkages and learning platform for cotton growers, processors, brands and consumers to educate and support them in their regenerative journey
• Supporting farmer groups in accessing technological solutions that aim to accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture

CRB and Solidaridad Asia are committed to impactful and inclusive programmes on the ground and are therefore joining hands to take regenerative agriculture to larger landscapes and across crops, starting with cotton. The Alliance will be launched at the event ‘Reclaim to Regenerate: Towards Regenerative Cotton Sector in India’, on 29 November 2022, at Hotel Le Méridien, Nagpur. Through this alliance, Solidaridad and CRB believe the required shift in agricultural practices will be made possible because of a new, more systemic form of collaboration between stakeholders across the value chain, which includes farmer groups, ginners, traders, buyers, brands, as well as agricultural and textile authorities.

In 2020, Solidaridad piloted one of India’s largest regenagri certification programmes in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, supporting 8,000 small farmers in adopting the practices. Presently, Solidaridad is working with over 100,000 farmers in the region – and by 2027, they are all expected to become regenagri certified. This effort alone would help in the reduction of about 100,000 tonnes of GHG.

The regenagri Cotton Alliance (rCA) aims to support the implementation actions aligned with the National Mission on Natural Farming, a Government of India initiative. Solidaridad and CRB will engage with government authorities to synergise the Alliance’s plans with the Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme under the national mission, to promote agrarian livelihoods as well as address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Solidaridad & Centre for Responsible Business encourages participants to take full advantage of the daylong workshop and get them educated and updated about new and innovative good farming practices. For participation and enrolment kindly find enclosed the link below:

In this regard the partner organisations express their optimistic views.  Dr. Shatadru Chattopadhyay, Managing Director, Solidaridad Asia, said, “Regenerative agriculture is the next step forward from sustainable agriculture. In fact, for Solidaridad, Regenerative Agriculture is the Sustainable Agriculture of this decade. Regenerative Agriculture practices are in line with the traditional knowledge of our ancestors. It is particularly pertinent for the cotton sector, known as “Tula” in Sanskrit which also means balance or equilibrium. Our goal is to bring this equilibrium of economic benefits to the Indian cotton farmers while helping sequester carbon – all the while stabilising the security of international textile and apparel supply chains through fostering resiliency in land and communities.”

Rijit Sengupta, Chief Executive Officer, CRB, said: “CRB is excited to partner with Solidaridad and regenagri on this initiative, especially given its timing. This initiative comes close on the heels of a set of guidelines released by the National Mission on Natural Farming, Government of India, and is well aligned with this renewed national focus on natural farming. We launch this programme with a focus on the cotton sector, and aim to expand it to other geographies and commodities, subsequently. There is increasing interest not just among global buyers/brands but also domestic players in this sector in regenerating natural systems and supporting smallholders. We hope the private sector will respond positively and join this initiative.”

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