Cotton farming provides a living to 250 million smallholder farmers around the world.
Cotton is a cash crop grown by communities across the world, relying on its cultivation to provide an income due to its guaranteed demand and easy storage. As you travel around India you will find numerous villages and even states where 90% of farmers grow cotton. With its global prevalence, any systemic changes made in the way it’s grown and sourced will have an outsized impact.
At Materra we believe cotton production is a huge leverage point for global change, led by the fashion industry and enabled by farming communities. Clothes provide comfort, warmth, expression, happiness, modesty — but imagine clothes that can provide water security, uplift communities or even rebuild whole ecosystems.
With over 3000 partner farmers, Materra is working with brand partners to build a new vision for the fashion industry, one that nurtures, one that rehabilitates and one that drives global change. Come join us!
We operate a farmers-first approach to our work. Outside of negotiating outcomes-based premiums, we actively work on and measure social and economic uplift, female empowerment and decent working conditions of our partner farmers.
For all our cotton we measure its GHG and water impact while tracking how its cultivation method benefits biodiversity and soil health, over 100’s of data points. All of Materra’s cotton is provided with granular primary data collected in the field via our Co:Farm platform, enabling exact, specific and most importantly compliant impact assessments to be created.
Fixing complex problems require hybrid, new-old solutions created in partnership with local communities. And trust can only be built when you can put a face to a name and have shared a story over chai. Materra’s unique partnership model enables brands to connect directly with farmers to build new transparent relationships and traceable supply chains, distributing profits and risks more equitably.
Impact highlights from 2023
We became a member of the Textile Exchange working group and are set to trial their Regenerative Outcomes Framework during 2024.
Read a feature of one of our masters farmers, Ranvirsinh Vaghela, on their blog here.
We held a tree plantation drive, distributing around 500 plants to our farmers to improve the overall biodiversity of their farms.
We spotted a bird's nest — most probably of a Red Vented Bulbul — in the cotton field of one of our master farmers, indicating that the field was biodiversity-friendly.
We also carried out plant diversity surveys in fields and found that there were nearly 70 different species of plants present in a single plot of just 24 x 45 M. These plants are beneficial to the local ecosystem, acting as host plants for butterflies and bees.
We designed soil health cards for farmers, incorporating not only chemical parameters but also comprehensive tests on physical and biological parameters essential for a holistic assessment.
We launched Materrapedia, a series of training and instructional videos on regenerative farming for the farmers we work with, all written and shot in-house. Along with this, we also released written instruction manuals.
FROM IMPACT ASSESSMENT TO REPORTING, PRIMARY DATA IS THE FOUNDATION OF IT ALL.
Gone are the days of average global numbers, mass-balance systems and generalised company claims. 2025 will usher in a new paradigm of transparency and traceability requiring brands to have detailed data on their whole supply chain — where better to start than at ground level?
To help future proof brands supply chains all of Materra’s cotton is provided with granular primary data collected in the field via our Co:Farm platform, enabling exact, specific and most importantly compliant impact assessments to be created.
Materra has our own in-house data collection and farmer support software called Co:Farm. Learn more about it here!
For regenerative cotton we conduct impact assessments for GHG and water and a social baseline from 2023 that can be shared on request. Send us a message if you’re interested! Hydroponic cotton is still in development; we have initial calculations and are working hard to have a full LCA ready to share soon.
We are currently finishing collecting a baseline dataset from our 2023 group of farmers. This is being built into a Theory of Change that will be available publically by March 2024 — check back here soon, or subscribe to our newsletter to receive a copy!
In 2023 Materra was invited by Textile Exchange to provide insights and feedback on regenerative cotton production with smallholder farmers in India. In 2024 we will be trialling how to measure a large number of outcomes in the proposed Regenerative Outcomes Framework.
Let’s change the way fashion works.
We’re working with progressive brands, textile mills, farming collectives and non-profits to create meaningful change in the global cotton systems industry. Intrigued about our work or simply ready to get started on your regen journey? Drop us a line!