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Suply chain John Lewis 3/4


years, is funded through the John Lewis Foundation to the tune of £180,000 and aims to recruit 1,500 farmers in total. The first year targeted farmers in Gujarat, a region in western India where they were shown how to employ smarter tech- niques around water irrigation, pesti- cide use and crop harvest. The initiative proved so successful that Allam says ini- tial demand has outstripped supply. “In just that one region we could have probably run the scheme 50% bigger because of demand. Recruitment for year two of the project as a consequence has been easy. One of the things we now have to consider over the next 12 months is do we move geographically to try and give farmers in a different region the same benefits, or do we stay in the same region and take it to another level.”


Impact assessment of initiatives like this is crucial which is why the project is run- ning over three years. It will enable bet- ter measurement and evaluation which ultimately, will help inform thinking around supply chain management. “The yield of cotton isn’t the main motivator for us, we are relatively relaxed about how much of it gets into our sup- ply chain – that’s a side benefit. This isn’t about John Lewis trying to close loop its supply chain … we are just trying to raise the standard for all of the supply chain in the cotton industry,” Allam maintains. As the project enters its second year, the impacts will become clearer but con- fidence is already high due to the level of recruitment and buy-in among the farm- ers and their families. “If the community didn’t support it, the project would have flopped quite fast,” Allam says. In terms of actual material use, John Lewis has sourced 50 tonnes of the first 1,000 tonnes of cotton harvested from the initiative for one of its new bath mat lines. There are plans to broaden the material out into other products with trials under way, but for the retailer, it is important that stringent controls are applied.


The yield of cotton isn’t the main motivator for us, we are relatively relaxed about how much of it gets into our supply chain. We are just trying to raise the standard


At a glance The issues


In developing countries, 50% of pesticides used are for cotton cultivation High water usage is associated with cotton; one T-shirt on average contains 2,600 litres of embedded water Cases of child slavery reported


The solution Farmers are trained in better water, soil, nutri- ent and pest control management Sessions include classroom and in-field Demonstration plots are set up to show best practice


Field executives are trained up to monitor progress


Publication of sustainable cotton handbook guide


The results Profitability; measuring yield and ginner price Water efficiency and reduced pesticide use Uptake of sustainable practice Scaleability and ability to replicate project


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