ITOCHU Announces Pre Organic Cotton Program Commitment Made to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a Global Initiative Hosted at UNDP

August 29, 2012

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that the expansion of the Pre Organic Cotton (POC) program jointly run with kurkku Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Takeshi Kobayashi, Representative Director; hereinafter “kurkku”) has been approved as an initiative of the Business Call to Action (BCtA). BCtA is a global initiative hosted at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which promotes businesses aimed at achieving both commercial success and sustainable development.

ITOCHU and kurkku have pledged that by joining BCtA they will expand the POC program, which helps farmers in India to shift to organic cotton production, improving their income, health and the environment. As a result of the POC program, by 2015 chemical-free farmland is expected to expand to approximately 30,000 acres, increasing the crop yields of pre-organic cotton to 5,000 tons and the number of farming families growing pre-organic cotton up 6,000 from the present. The BCtA stated, “The POC program makes it possible for farmers in India to transition to organic cotton production by guaranteeing to purchase the cotton yields during the three-year organic conversion process.”

ITOCHU and kurkku will use their membership to the BCtA as the driving force to expand the POC program, helping more farmers to reach higher standards of living while also reducing environmental degradation. The POC program was typically supported by consumers with a high level of awareness of environmental problems. Membership to the BCtA is expected to increase international recognition of the program and make pre-organic cotton more likely to be adopted by a wider array of customers, including major retailers and apparel companies in Europe and the United States.

In Japan, ITOCHU and kurkku also collaborate with educational institutions and organizations to raise awareness about the socio-economic and environmental benefits of organic cotton farming. Additionally, the companies aim to promote use of pre-organic cotton for employee uniforms, which encourages businesses to further take part in the POC program.

Business Call to Action (BCtA)

BCtA ([Open in a new window] ) is a global initiative that seeks to challenge companies to develop business models that offer the potential for development impact along with commercial success. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the Australian Agency for International Development, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the UK Department for International Development, the US Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the International Business Leaders Forum.


Pre Organic Cotton Program

The Pre Organic Cotton program ([Open in a new window] ) was launched in 2007 as a joint project between ITOCHU Corporation and kurkku Co., Ltd., which is represented by Takeshi Kobayashi, a music producer. The program is for helping Indian cotton farmers shift to organic production of cotton. This transition will reduce health damage and environmental burden caused by the large amount of pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in cotton production. The program helps farmers make this change by providing a guarantee to purchase pre-organic cotton, which is the cotton they produce during the three-year period required for the certificate of completing transition to organic production. Activities under the program also include distribution of free cottonseeds that are not genetically modified, guidance on organic farming, and support for acquisition of organic farming certificates. In 2011, 555 farming families were certified as organic cotton producers after completing the three-year transition period.

Farmers supported by the POC program