This year, for the first time, nine football clubs from the top two tiers of the Bundesliga (1. FC Union Berlin, Arminia Bielefeld, Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt, FC St. Pauli, Hamburger SV, SV Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg) have joined forces to support 450 small farmers from a cotton cooperative in India in converting to the cultivation of organic cotton over the next three years.
The clubs in this alliance will also purchase cotton from the project in the future and process it for their club merchandise. The first articles will likely be available in the fan shops from next summer. At the same time, the project offers children and young people in the neighbouring communities of cotton cultivation educational prospects through sports training. Girls and young women in particular are set to benefit from this.
The initiative was launched by the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with the textile company BRANDS Fashion. The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) is also supporting its implementation.
Smallholder families benefit from organic cotton cultivation
India is the world’s largest cotton producer with 6.2 million tonnes of cotton annually and 35 percent of the global cultivated area. However, the excessive use of pesticides still affects soil and water quality. For many smallholders, the income is not enough to live on. At the same time, there is a growing demand for sustainable and especially organic textile products.
The GIZ global project “Sustainability and Value Creation in Agricultural Supply Chains (AgriChains)” and the Rapar & Dhrangadhra Farmers Producer Company (RDFC) therefore support 450 smallholder farmers over a period of three years during the entire conversion phase from conventional to organic cotton – for example, through training in sustainable cultivation practices or access to improved seeds. By increasing the supply and purchasing the cotton already during the conversion phase, the smallholder farms are expected to produce around two tonnes of cotton per hectare for the clubs’ merchandise in the future. In the meantime, all the clubs are undertaking to purchase the articles already during the conversion phase. Through high-quality and responsible production, small farmers are to benefit from higher incomes in the long term and the environment is to be protected.
Fair play: Sports activities for disadvantaged children and young people
Local children and young people will also benefit from the commitment of the various Bundesliga clubs – they often suffer from a lack of access to educational opportunities. Together with the Indian non-governmental organisation Youth For Change (YFC), the project offers sports programmes in ten communities in the cotton growing regions for children and youth. The programmes are advised and managed by the GIZ global project “Sport for Development”.
The aim is to strengthen the self-esteem and self-confidence of around 1,000 children and young people through sports activities and to improve their performance at school. At the same time, they are sensitised to environmental protection and resource conservation. Special attention is paid to girls and young women. They are often particularly affected by the challenges in the farming regions and the lack of educational opportunities. Sports coaches from the various communities will be trained for the project. As ambassadors, they will run the sports programmes and are important contact persons for the children and young people – on and off the field.