Building an inclusive cupro textile value chain in India
Asahi Kasei, one of Japan's leading manufactures of fiber products and chemicals, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA), committing to enhance the skills and productivity of 5,240 employees in the cupro fiber industry, and develop the capacity of 700 young people especially women to lead the industry in the future. With its focus on sustainable livelihoods for women and youth, Asahi Kasei is dedicated to building an inclusive cupro-fiber value chain in India by 2020.
In India, over half of the population is engaged in small-to-medium scale farming, yet farmers have little opportunity to add value to their products in order to increase their incomes. Within Gujarat State, one of India's most important textile-fiber growing regions, production of cotton for sale to textile manufacturers is constrained by adverse climate and limited productivity. Many manufactures who engage in textile production lack the resources to pursue advanced technologies. Despite its economic potential, the region suffers from limited growth.
Asahi Kasei supplies worldwide markets with its original cupro fabric eco-friendly cellulose fiber derived from cotton 'linter' (the tiny fibers that stick to the seeds of the cotton plant after the cotton has been ginned). Because of its silky texture and ability to absorb moisture, cupro is ideal for weaving into women's saris. And since cupro is made from a part of the cotton plant that was previously thrown away, Asahi Kasei's fair-price purchases of cotton linter provide a welcome boost to local smallholders incomes. By 2020, 390,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the initiative.
Through its inclusive value chain model, the company's purchases of cotton linter from smallholders are also enabling local cupro weaving and dyeing factories to create new jobs. To support factories in the cupro value chain, the company is bringing its expertise in modern de-linting, weaving and dyeing technologies by leasing advanced machineries to local factories for free and by sending its experts to those factories to train factory employees in their use. Asahi Kasei is also providing training and scholarships to university students, especially women, studying textiles and design building India's future textile industry workforce.
Asahi Kasei began exporting its cupro fiber to India in 1976, and focused on developing a local value chain, from raw materials to end products. By the end of 2015, Asahi Kasei had partnered with 60 weaving and 3 dyeing factories, and achieved sales of 4,300 tons of cupro fiber. By 2020 it aims to sell 6,000 tons of cupro to 80 weaving and 10 dyeing factories.
The company plans to provide an additional US$40,000 to support the education of 700 young people (75 percent of them women) between 2016 and 2020, and increase the production efficiency of 97 small- and medium-scale de-linting, weaving and dyeing manufacturers. Since Indian women are the main consumers of cupro fabric, Asahi Kasei expects continued growth in this rapidly developing market: by 2020, it estimates that 15 million Indian women will be wearing saris made of cupro.