Leveraging farmer-level impact through market driven interventions in the organic cotton sector

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) focuses on creating a prosperous organic cotton sector that benefits everyone—from farmer to consumer.

Photo of Eva Schouten
2 3

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

The Organic Cotton Accelerator

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Headquarters location: Country

  • Netherlands

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

India: Regions Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka



Twitter URL


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

While organic cotton farming certainly scores higher on environmental and health benefits than conventional cotton production, this does not necessarily hold true for the financial benefits reaped by an organic cotton farmer. In India, the world’s largest producer of organic cotton, more and more farmers are moving away from organic cotton.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Together with our market-driven interventions that are designed to be self-sustaining and scalable in the long-run, we build on existing initiatives, mobilize others into action and create shared opportunities across the supply chain. As an example: Our sourcing interventions in India put farmer livelihoods at the heart of the organic cotton sector. We work through the supply chains of participating partner brands to introduce new sourcing practices that serve to secure the integrity of organic cotton, provide access to quality seeds, and strengthen the business case for farmers. To address the root causes at seed-level, we are investing in the ‘Seeding the Green Future’ seed breeding program and conducting advocacy efforts to create the right conditions for quality organic cotton seeds to grow.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

OCA’s social and environmental impact: Improved farmer livelihoods: • Improved farmer income • Decreased credit dependency • Improved worker health and safety • Improved food security & safety by rotation with other crops Thriving Environment: • Organic farming helps lower harmful emissions • Hazardous pesticides and chemical fertilizers are avoided • Non-GMO encourages hybrid variation in cotton seeds • Organic soils retain more water Currently, OCA’s sourcing projects cover around 2,000 farmers in four Indian states (Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa), and OCA has the aim to scale and mainstream these successful practices in organic cotton. Next to this, the seed breeding program OCA invests in is operating in two major agro-climatic zones in India with over 20 cultivar trials underway.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

To accelerate the shift towards a prosperous organic cotton sector, we are supported by the participation and commitment of brands, retailers, processors, producers, governments and civil society organizations that are part of the change. Our 2017 budget: - Grants: 16% - Corporate contributions: 58% - Other: 26% (Budget surplus 2016)

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

OCA is unique in its sort by being pre-competitive, industry led and farmer-focused: • OCA coordinates the development and implementation of field level sourcing pilots • OCA enables uniform impact measurement • OCA accelerates initiatives to increase integrity • OCA unites partners and key sector stakeholders ranging from brands, donors, NGO’s and suppliers to collaborate and share learnings. OCA- partners are “in it to fix it” and aim for both systemic and farm level impact.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Two years ago, a group of brands realized the potential of organic cotton was slipping away. Supply was declining and farmers were moving out of production because of a poor business case in organic cotton. These brands realized that long-term security of supply did not just depend on having more certified organic cotton labels. It required transforming the entire supply chain using targeted interventions to enhance the business case and livelihoods of organic cotton farmers. These frontrunner brands decided to join forces and form the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) to drive their unique vision: bringing about a more prosperous organic cotton sector that benefits everyone—from farmer to consumer. Since then more brands, NGO’s and suppliers have joined this movement.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eva Schouten

Ramy Elmery  thank you!

View all comments