The winds of change are sweeping through the manufacturing industry, and at the forefront of this transformation is a groundbreaking approach that connects the dots from the farm to the shelf, introducing innovative models like "farm to shelf," "farm to retail," and the visionary "soil to soil" concept pioneered by Fibershed. It's not just a business model; it's a paradigm shift, propelling suppliers into the market while championing transparency and traceability—no longer a choice but an inevitable future for brands and retailers.
With global fiber use set to surge from 110 million to 149 million metric tons by 2030, of which only 1.4% is organic, Soorty's Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI) emerges as a beacon of change. Operating on a massive scale, with 7.5 million meters of monthly denim fabric production Soorty launched SOCI not just as a business strategy; but also as a commitment to a sustainable future as it is meant to scale. Pakistan is a resource scarce manufacturing landscape excelling in updated technology use where investment intense projects are supporting the global fashion industry and people are at the core of these projects` success.
Presented at the Sourcing Journal Fall Summit in New York, SOCI aligns seamlessly with Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economy model, harmonizing humanity and nature. SOCI's leadership model is integral—a multi-year commitment to organic cotton conversion, with no immediate financial returns but a substantial investment in scaling organic farming practices and improving the lives of farmers in Khuzdar, Balochistan.
Khuzdar, a region facing economic challenges, relies on agriculture and husbandry for survival. SOCI, in partnership with WWF and the Department for Agricultural Extension, embarked on a journey in 2021, with the first harvest concluding in December. Starting with 850 farmers, SOCI now covers 1300, spanning over 10,000 acres and has a goal to produce organic cotton to make over 8,5million metric meters of 100% organic cotton content denim by 2025.
SOCI thrives on collaboration, with the Organic Cotton Association (OCA) playing a pivotal role. OCA accelerates the use of organic cotton, conducting farm audits and ensuring transparency. The cost of ginning, premiums for farmers, and all details are traceable, audited by OCA, and set the farmers get paid the premium suggested by the Laudes Foundation.
SOCI provides non-GMO seeds, ensuring seed purity through partnerships with WWF and certifications by GOTS and OCS.
The process begins with farmer education through 52 Farmer Field Schools, focusing on organic practices, producing and using bio-pesticides, and focusing on water conservation. SOCI's regenerative system builds a positive carbon cycle, utilizing nature as a guide. The introduction of organic pesticides and the return of honeybees signal a chemical-free environment.
In tackling the challenge of in-conversion cotton, SOCI pioneers digital traceability with FarmDar, launching the first digitally traced bale in Pakistan in 2023. This complex journey evolves, adapting to nature's rhythm, with SOCI constantly innovating, operating within a living system.
Beyond sustainability, SOCI champions a female-centered program in partnership with DOCH, a local NGO, empowering women through stitching indigenous artisan embroidery enabling financial literacy, and global e-market access. Capacity building, financial inclusion, community uplift, women's empowerment, and radical digital traceability form the project's core.
As the fashion industry marches towards a new era, SOCI stands as a testament to a transformative business model—one that doesn't just produce fashion but nurtures a symbiotic relationship between commerce, nature, and humanity. The future is organic, transparent, and undeniably exciting and needs more brands and retailers to recognize its impact so that the blueprint could be shared not just in Pakistan but globally where cotton is grown.