In approximately two months, the Cooperative of Cotton Textile Production of the State of Paraíba (CoopNatural) will launch into the market clothing made from the first Brazilian crop of organic colored cotton. The cooperative comprises companies and groups of artisans who manufacture clothes under the Natural Fashion brand, whose production is environmentally conscious.
The organic colored cotton was planted by farmer Renato Gadelha, in the municipality of Bonsucesso, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraíba, and the entire production was destined for CoopNatural. Now, the cotton is being ginned for later transformation into fiber, and then into textile items.
In January, Gadelha planted 40 hectares of organic cotton, half colored and half white, by request of CoopNatural itself. The crop was harvested between May and June. According to Maysa Gadelha, president at CoopNatural and Gadelha's wife, the price paid for the organic product was 30% higher than that of regular cotton.
The yield, according to her, was 1,300 kilograms per hectare. The organic white cotton yielded 2,000 kilograms per hectare. Maysa decided to ask her husband to plant the cotton due to the difficulty finding local farmers willing to cultivate it.
The product, which is different from the traditional one and grown in green and ruby colours, did not receive chemicals at the crop. "Therefore, there are no chemical residues in the fiber," explains Luiz Paulo de Carvalho, a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), who taught the farmer how to use the organic growing system.
In order to fight the two pests that usually attack cotton in the region, the boll weevil and the cotton leafworm, natural insecticides and biological combat were used.
The boll weevil, for example, lays its egg inside the cotton cocoon, which leads the cocoon to fall. In the organic crop, in order to solve the problem, the cocoon is manually picked off the ground before a new weevil is born from the laid egg.
Farmers in the region had the opportunity to know the organic colored cotton crop, and should also start planting it in upcoming crops. Gadelha himself will increase the area to 100 hectares and plant the cotton again this month. In the second half of the year, though, the cotton requires irrigation, different than in the beginning of the year. Once again, the product will be destined for clothes manufacturing by Natural Fashion.
"Our goal is to expand," says Maysa. The fact that the cotton is already colored, besides being organic, ensures that it does not receive any chemical products, neither during farming nor during the clothes' manufacturing process, as it does not require dyeing.
Maysa claims that there is a market for this type of product, mainly comprised of environmentally conscious people. The focus of CoopNatural is on offering products as pure and natural as possible. The cooperative makes pieces of its own brand, and for third parties as well. This year, for instance, it will manufacture male underwear of the Zorba brand using organic cotton.
CoopNatural makes clothing for men, women, and children, accessories such as caps and purses, textile toys, and decoration items such as table towels and bed spreads. The cooperative produces 10,000 items per month.
The products are exported to Europe and the United States, and are also sold in 250 points of sale in Brazil. The pieces made of colored organic cotton should also be exported, according to Maysa.
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