US skate, swim, and snowboarding lifestyle brand Volcom has partnered with social enterprise CottonConnect on an initiative that allows it to trace certified organic cotton back to farms in India.

The Farm to Yarn initiative also provides social and professional education programmes for the farmers and women in the farming villages of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh where the cotton is sourced.

Volcom’s initial Farm to Yarn launch produced nearly 27 metric tons (representing an estimated 15% of Volcom’s total organic cotton supply) of certified, fully traceable-to-the-farm organic cotton from eight different villages in the Madhya Pradesh region of India. 

In addition to the social impact benefits, the programme features integrity components as well, such as GMO testing to ensure seeds are free from genetically modified organisms; tracking of tested seed to farmer, ensuring tested seeds are planted; linking of farmers to the ginner, ginner to the spinner, spinner to the fabric mill for supply chain transparency.

The Farm to Yarn range of products using the organic cotton will launch in spring 2019, and will build on the organic cotton T-shirt range it has been selling for years.

Speaking of the multi-year partnership with CottonConnect, Tony Alvarez, Volcom’s VP of global compliance and supply chain, said collaboration was key to the success of the launch. “Without good partners on the ground, a programme like this rarely stands a chance.”

CottonConnect’s regional director for South East Asia, Arvind Rewal, adds: “Traceability is critical for the future of organic cotton. It requires a brand to be intentional about mapping its supply chain. This project is a great example of how a company is intentionally seeking traceability in a supply chain that was said to be impossible to map.”