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October 13, 2008

Organic cotton production grows 152 percent in 2007/2008

The amount of organic cotton farmers grew worldwide in 2007/08 increased 152 percent, according to a new report by Lubbock, TX-based Organic Exchange (OE). According to its "Organic Cotton Farm and Fiber Report 2008," organic cotton production increased to 145,872 metric tons (MT) (668,581 bales) grown on 161,000 hectares in 22 countries worldwide.

Approximately 60 percent of the total represents expansion of known projects while the remaining 40 percent represents data from new projects becoming certified or previously unknown projects. The report will be formally released at the Organic Exchange's 6th Global Conference and Marketplace in Porto, Portugal, October 14-17, 2008.

The conference will be attended by hundreds of leaders representing the global organic fiber value chain, with the keynote by John Elkington, celebrated author on sustainable development and corporate responsibility expert. The conference will be followed by a tour of the Teviz Group mill in GuimarĂ£es, Portugal, one of the first mills in the world to be certified to the new Global Organic Textile Standards.

The increase in production was driven in large part by the heightened demand for organic cotton on the part of small- to large-sized retailers around the world. According to the "Organic Exchange Organic Cotton Market Report 2007," the organic cotton market topped one billion U.S. dollars in 2006.

"Farmers and retailers are starting to work hand in hand to drive the conversion to and expansion of the organic cotton market," said LaRhea Pepper, OE executive director. Simon Ferrigno, OE Farm Development Program director and lead author of the report, noted that "With forward contracts, price security, and increased research and education, the amount of organic cotton production will continue to increase rapidly."

India, Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, USA, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso were the top ten organic cotton producing countries in order by rank, with India taking over Turkey's long-time standing as the number one producer. The majority of the increased organic cotton production took place in India. Organic cotton production has grown to an estimated 0.55 percent of global cotton production.

Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers or genetically- modified seeds.

Founded in 2002, Organic Exchange facilitates expansion of the global organic cotton fiber supply by working closely with farmers, leading brands and retailers and their business partners to develop organic cotton programs. OE has hosted numerous organic cotton conferences and trainings in supply chain centers around the world, including Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.

OE's 7th Organic Exchange Global Conference and Marketplace will take place in Seattle, Washington in October, 2009.

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