Changing the world with regenerative organic cotton

Women on Wings’ partner Grameena Vikas Kendram (GVK) runs a Regenerate the Environment, Society and Economy through Textiles program (RESET) which aims to create sustainable life, combat climate change and improve farming communities’ socio-economic conditions. Recently Germaine van Teefelen, a Dutch expert in logistics and supply chain, worked with the GVK team in Kadapa on how to scale RESET.

Hands-on support from expert
GVK and Women on Wings worked on scaling RESET by defining processes and delving deeply into the details of the why, how and what of the program. Aneel Kumar Ambavaran, president at GVK: “The discussions with the Women on Wings team clarified a lot. Germaine has been a very hands-on support. We created a manual which will be maintained and updated for new colleagues. The guidelines which Germaine shared with us were very helpful in putting together our Standard Operating Procedures.”

Switching to regenerative organic farming
GVK supports – largely female – farmers to switch from conventional, pesticide-based farming to a regenerative-organic one that creates a win-win at different integration levels. RESET farmers are organized as producer groups and their capacities are built to take up collective cultivation, handling and sale. As the facilitating organization, GVK intervenes at the key leverage points across the supply chain to optimize value for the farming communities including value addition and up-marketing. While doing so, excessive carbon from the atmosphere gets captured to be buried into the soil.

Impacting global public and 15,000 rural families
Aneel continues: “We will link farmers with global brands and end consumers to create an inclusive value chain community. GVK has joined hands with Meta Wear, USA, to reach out the American market and beyond. Tangible outcomes are increased awareness of the general public around organic cotton, tackling climate change and extra jobs for women. Initially, we will work with 350 farmers, but we aim to achieve exponential growth. After five years we will have impacted 15,000 farmers plus their families. That’s over 60,000 people.”

Women on Wings and GVK
GVK is based in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. Next to its regenerative organic cotton programs, it works on a number of innovative models. Since 2016, Women on Wings and GVK partner to uplift rural communities by creating sustainable livelihoods for rural women. Initially, they only partnered in GVK’s Hesperidin program. Women gather and process sweet oranges that have fallen from the tree prematurely. These oranges contain Hesperidin, a bioflavonoid, which is a source for medicines. By enrolling the women into collecting and processing of waste fruits, GVK has already increased the farmers’ annual income by 15 to 20%.