My story is rather amusing because I did not realize I had cotton to harvest. In fact, I tossed the plant to an area of my garden I rarely visit, so it was a pleasant surprise to even notice it.
Why am I so enthused over growing non-GMO organic cotton in Hawaii? There are so many reasons that I'll not take the space here to elaborate. But don't ignore a few facts:
- According to the 2011 Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Farm & Fiber Report, approximately 151,079 metric tons (MT) of organic cotton (693,900 bales) were grown on 324,577 hectares (802,047 acres) in 2010-2011.
- Organic cotton equals 0.7 percent of global cotton production.
- Organic cotton was grown in 20 countries worldwide in 2010-11 led by India and including (in order of rank): Syria, China, Turkey, United States, Tanzania, Egypt, Mali, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Pakistan, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Paraguay, Israel, Tajikistan, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Senegal.
- Approximately 219,000 farmers grew the fiber in 2010-11.
- In 2011, organic fiber sales in the United States grew by 17.1 percent over the previous year, to reach $708 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey.
- The future looks promising, with organic fiber products appearing in more mainstream outlets, led by large and small U.S. textile retailers alike.
- Sales of clothing made from organic cotton bucked the gloomy picture for organic products in 2011, rising in the UK by 2% against the year before while food and drink fell 3.7% in the same period.
GMO protestors may note that approximately 65% of world cotton production currently comes from genetically-modified crops. A spokeswoman from the Soil Association said:
"Larger brands tend to do a lot of 'blending' – using organic alongside non-organic. The issue is partly about shortage of supply of organic cotton, due to the dominance of the GM corporations. That is why our campaign is pressing big brands to sign up and drive the demand for organic, non-GM cotton."
The Soil Association is UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. Sweet, eh?
Now in reference to the 2011 Organic Cotton Market Report by Textile Exchange, the good news is that textile, apparel, and footwear industries embraced a broader cotton portfolio that spans certified organic cotton and non-genetically modified seed to initiatives that improve the way conventional cotton is farmed — environmentally, socially, and economically.
The bad news is that for the first time in 10 years, organic cotton production dropped
by a whopping 37 percent. Along with other industries, that's a serious setback.
This poses an interesting challenge for the 81 percent of companies that indicated plans to expand their organic cotton programs each year for the foreseeable future.
Where exactly is this fiber going to come from? Will it meet geographic, quantity, and quality
The facts are particularly useful for global companies that are into exports. Although farmers are challenged in every respect on the mainland, production of organic cotton is strong in California and Texas.
No doubt our island is a good place to grow organic cotton. My question is if it could be a Hawaiian-made niche for small farmers on all our islands?
I recall councilwoman Brenda Ford presented the 2013 question, "couldn't Hawai'i be a non-GMO niche?"
Actually, Hawaiians could develop their own certification system instead of the USDA programs that entail contradictory regulations over food and textiles. That's where the battleground consist of unethical corporate-bully lobbyists. Is it possible to simply claim pesticide-free, made in Hawai'i?
Back to my cotton plant ... I gave up on it when I saw a tree in my hood that had the same-looking leaves. I figured my plant wasn't cotton after all, was replaced with a voluntary, and that the seedling must have unknowingly died.
Now I have several new seedlings on my garden table. In conclusion, abused organic cotton thrives in lower Puna!
Ever Gotten Organic Cotton?
Natural Pesticide-Free Cotton Grows in Seaview
Small Scale Cotton Growing