IDH Hosts 1st Maharashtra Cotton Water Platform Meeting in Mumbai, India

The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), supported by 2030 Water Resource Group, held the 1st Maharashtra Cotton Water Platform (MCWP) meeting in Mumbai, India. The MCWP is envisioned to draw from key brands, supply chain actors and auxiliary industry representatives to create models of engagement and outreach to cotton smallholders that speak to sustainability at scale – while also advising the government departments on the key enablers that could enhance existing efforts or lead to greenfield initiatives.

Chaired by Mr. Vikas Rastogi, Director, Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture (representing the Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra), the meeting was attended by representatives of the state government, retailers, supply chain partners, farmer producer companies, public banks and civil society organisations.

Jasmer Dhingra, Program Lead at IDH, set the tone for the meeting by enumerating the platform objectives – accelerating water efficient and climate resilient agriculture, sustainable cotton supply chains with global standards and mobilization of brands and their supply chains, while detailing proposed interventions and also highlighting the importance of a multi stakeholder process to achieve these objectives.

Proposed themes for the platform emerged through a moderated discussion to identify and table – the need to fill information gaps, knowledge partners for strategic agenda development, key unlocking moves and questions to be answered. These themes included Sustainability Standards in Cotton, Cotton & beyond – diversification of income, Opportunities to work on gender in Agriculture and Business modelling for farmer services and engagement.

Preliminary thoughts on the creation of a platform monitoring dashboard were shared, underlining how simple tools can be created to capture changes in the community and to allow for communication of stories of engagement.

Sharing his views, Mr. Nawin Sona Natesan, Secretary to Govt. of Maharashtra and MD at Maharashtra State Cotton Growers’ Marketing Federation, stated that a dashboard measuring progress of multi stakeholder initiatives in a cash crop sector like cotton, should reflect market circumstances and market risks, for example the impact of pest attacks and crop failures on market prices.

Additionally, existence of multiple points of data was also taken up during the discussions, whereby, the Chair, Mr Rastogi stressed that these data points sit within different governmental agencies as well as with private sector and civil society organisations and it would be valuable to bring together key information onto one platform.

In continuation with the theme of measuring change, IDH presented a brief introduction to Service Delivery Model analyses as a tool to assess and adapt several archetypes of farm/farmer level engagements.

The platform meeting also explored new types of funding opportunities that focus on the business case for smallholder farmer engagement, blended financing, scalability and public-private partnerships and examined briefly the trending eligibility criteria for these opportunities.

While emphasizing the need to have a broader representation from the producer community, Mr Rastogi encouraged participants to collaborate with each other stating, “Participants should continue to engage with the platform providing inputs offline and share your own initiatives and achievements, so we can keep learning from each other”.