Opportunities and Challenges in India’s Cotton Sector

Photo credit: Joerg Boethling, Alamy Stock Photo

Published: July 2024

Transparentem is presenting an interim report on opportunities and challenges in the Indian cotton sector to encourage more stakeholders to engage in the positive developments highlighted within the report. We plan to publish a comprehensive report in November 2024, detailing our findings and the responsive actions and commitments made by private sector actors and other key entities.

From June 2022 to March 2023, Transparentem investigated labor conditions on cotton farms in an Indian state known for its significant production of both conventional and organic cotton. The investigation uncovered evidence of child labor, including the worst forms of child labor, on some farms. Additionally, investigators found evidence of indicators of forced labor as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO), including debt bondage, abusive working conditions, and abuse of vulnerability, as well as payment of wages below the state minimum wage. 

Transparentem is encouraged that many of the buyers we contacted are collaborating with their suppliers to develop remediation plans and to improve their understanding of conditions on cotton farms. Since being contacted by Transparentem, over half of the companies have formed working groups and are collaborating in the development of remediation plans. Some other buyers appear to be taking steps individually to engage the suppliers. Unfortunately, some buyers have not yet responded or engaged significantly. Transparentem will continue to engage with suppliers, buyers and other stakeholders to seek remediation.