IKEA: Promoting sustainable cotton farming in India and Pakistan

Updated : October 2020


  • Textile fiber cultivation professional
  • Textile industry sustainability professionals
In 2013, the Swedish home furnishing retailer, IKEA, joined the Business Call to Action with its commitment to procure and use by the end of 2015 only cotton coming from more sustainable sources. Most of the cotton used in IKEA products comes from China, India, and Pakistan. Inefficient irrigation practices are a major contributor to water losses, with conventional cotton cultivation methods requiring between 7,000 and 29,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton lint. Aiming at the creation of a transformative change in the cotton supply chain, farmers supported by the IKEA initiative that complies with BCI guidelines are free to sell their cotton to any buyers. Since the inception of the IKEA initiative in 2005 beginning with training 450 farmers, the project today involves over 100,000 farmers in China, India, Pakistan, and Turkey that adopt better crop management, including reducing the use of water, fertilizer, and chemicals, while increasing profit margins. Some of the key success factors in this initiative have been a partnership for capacity where IKEA supported cotton projects in India and Pakistan are implemented together with field partners, such as WWF, Action for Food Production (AFPRO) and the Development Support Centre (DSC), creating linkages so that the produced cotton can be traced through the various stages of processing and manufacture into the finished product that IKEA sells to its customers, and achieving scale where IKEA is also facilitating the uptake of more sustainable cotton by its supply chain partners.

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