Organic Cotton Monitoring and Traceability System

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Organic Cotton Monitoring and Traceability System

United States
Year Founded:
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are creating a tech solution that tracks the flow of organic cotton from the farmer to the mill, while simultaneously gathering sustainability indicators from the farmer. Information will be used by stakeholders to improve farmer/ worker well being and make trade more transparent and reliable.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if an innovative monitoring technology allows organizations to track the organic cotton supply chain, improving the sustainable impact of organic cotton production and transforming the way the apparel industry works to improve people’s lives?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Organic certified organizations maintain records to comply with certification. Such information is rarely systematized, not allowing stakeholders to easily access the basic data on organic cotton production or the impact it has had on farmers, workers and the environment. An easy-to-use technology for the traceability and monitoring of organic cotton production and commercialization that also records sustainability indicators is not available.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our organic cotton traceability and monitoring technology allows farmer organizations to gather and systemize information coming from the field by using mobile devices, tablets and paper. It tracks the flow of goods from the source to the central processing facilities and collects data to inform key performance indicators related to organic cotton production, as well as the sustainability of the farmers and workers participating in the supply chain. The availability and readiness of information will help enhance the livelihoods of organic cotton farmers and workers by allowing POs, gins, retailers, etc. to have reliable data to measure their operations, promoting a fair and sustainable apparel industry in which everyone can thrive.


SourceTrace: Design Awards Asia (Gold Award); finalist for Vodafone 2014 Mobile for Good Awards; Short-listed for BSR, UN Global Compact and Cognizant’s project to identify the top traceability solutions for the apparel industry (2015).
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The app captures farmer information at the field (i.e. farm area, crop info, farming practices, yield est.). POs can track product delivery so farmers don’t sell more than their estimated yields. Key socio-economic indicators can be measured. All the information is available to POs and farmers in a centralized database. Data collected allows PO and its partners to: access origin and production reports; launch programs to strengthen the skills of farmers/workers; highlight key farm level sustainability indicators to be tracked and measured over time; assess the return on investment of sustainable sourcing activities; create a sustainable sourcing action plan to coordinate training, market access and financial partnerships with local farmers

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

COSA developed an impact assessment system to measure the sustainability of coffee sourcing programs, by collecting and analyzing data from 60,000 farmers worldwide. This system has been adapted to cotton and tested in South India. SourceTrace solutions have been deployed in 10 countries in Asia, Africa and LA, reaching out to 200,000 smallholder farmers. By combining sustainability assessments with traceability software, we will provide stakeholders with a tool to truly understand the production sustainability of organic cotton from the farm to the mill. POs and their partners will be able to better plan their activities and direct their investments more effectively to improve the living conditions of organic cotton farmers and workers. Our goal is to have reached all organic cotton farmers worldwide within next 5 to 10 years (+/-220,000 organic cotton farmers located in 20 countries).

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. Merge COSA’s ME System with SourceTrace’s traceability technology. 2. Pilot the new technology (20 PO’s with a total of 5,000 farmers in India) and make adjustments. 3. Market the app in Asia, Africa and LA taking advantage of COSA and SourceTrace’s strong network of partners working in sustainable agriculture (i.e. ICAC, Textile Exchange, BCI, The African Cotton Initiative), and support implementation. 4. Help clients analyze data (for an additional service fee).

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The technology will be sold to: Apparel retailers who want to ensure the full traceability of their cotton supply; organic cotton farmer cooperatives interested in getting their produce certified; Development agencies supporting farmers and coops dedicated to organic cotton production; Ginners, yarn spinners, textile mill, cut & sew, etc. who are directly sourcing from farmers; Govt Agencies in developing countries promoting organic cotton.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

COSA and SourceTrace as well as other technologies such as Geotraceability, Cropster, etc. have individual digital solutions for the coffee and cocoa sectors . None of them however cover all aspects of sustainability and traceability for the organic cotton sector. COSA and SourceTrace will help make this system more readily available to the cotton value chain through promotion with key partners such as ICAC, Textile Exchange, BCI, The African Cotton Initiative, etc. The partnership would like to explore opportunities within the C&A supply chain to demonstrate the impact of the solution.

Founding Story

COSA developed a system for measuring performance and impact of agriculture sustainability initiatives. It has its own technology for data collection but realized its tools could be greatly improved by partnering with an organization solely dedicated to creating mobile technology for the agribusiness. By partnering with SourceTrace, the global leader for mobile technology in this field, we can further advance the development of shared measurement. SourceTrace’s technology is easily adaptable to include COSA’s indicators and surveys, and both organizations found it a great opportunity to begin their partnership by adapting SourceTrace’s systems to be used for the organic cotton supply chain.


Daniele Giovannucci: Daniele Giovannucci is the President of the Committee on Sustainability Assessment and leads the network of global partnerships that are a hallmark of its participatory learning process for improving sustainability practices. His enthusiasm for a pragmatic approach to research and development stems from15 years as a business executive in food-related firms. Later, as Senior Consultant to the World Bank (Markets and Agribusiness Thematic Team), he helped evolve the design of sustainability components for many rural development and agribusiness projects for nearly a decade. He has developed or managed projects in more than 30 countries since he began working on the sustainability issues of developing nations in 1992. Downloads of his published work rank him in the top 1% of the more than 240,000 professional authors tracked by the Social Science Research Network (including translations) and his newest major works (co-authored) are Sustainable Development in the 21st Century (United Nations DESA) and Measuring Sustainability: COSA findings in 12 countries for coffee and cocoa. For a thorough list of publications, please visit: Saurin Nanavatti: Manager of Partner Relations and Learning for the Committee on Sustainability Assessment. He leads work with dozens of global organizations that are formulating diagnostic tools with COSA to better understand Producer Organizations and he also manages key processes for the overall learning that is generated together with COSA Research Partner Institutions. Saurin specializes in Organizational and Business Development processes and has spent the past 12 years managing international development programs and formulating systems for producer organizations to access information, capital and markets. Prior to COSA, Saurin served as Vice President of Root Capital and developed the organization’s Financial Advisory Services program, which delivered financial management training to 300 producer organizations across Latin America and Africa. Saurin previously worked with the Grameen Foundation where he managed the collaboration of a multi-stakeholder partnership, using mobile technology and agriculture research to track plant diseases affecting food security in Uganda. In India, Saurin served as Program Director for Zameen Organic, where he supported the organization of 5,000 small scale cotton farmers into a certified Fair Trade-Organic supply chain. He served 2 years in Peace Corps Panama and received a Bachelor degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. In his spare time, Saurin supports Haitian coffee farmers as an advisor for the Singing Rooster Coffee Company. Dr. Venkat Maroju: As Chief Executive Officer, Dr.Venkat Maroju leads business strategy, global expansion and sales at SourceTrace Systems. He has turned the company around by rightly positioning it in the agriculture domain with the vision to capitalize on the worldwide demand for remote transactional solutions in this sector. Venkat brings with him rich and diverse experience in technology leadership, having worked with well-known global corporations like Bose and ComauPICO (A subsidiary of Fiat). He blends this with extensive grassroots-level experience with social enterprises in developing countries, as well as with micro-finance institutions, farmers’ cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, rural supply chain and renewable energy. Venkat’s career began in the auto industry, where he led several large-scale technology transformation programs for digitization & collaboration for distributed product development and supply chain processes. Later, he became Divisional Information Officer of Bose Corporation where he led the information systems strategy and implementation for the global Automotive Division with presence in USA, Europe, Japan and China. Prior to joining SourceTrace, Venkat had founded Factum Ventures, a holding company in India that set up and promoted new business ventures in sustainable agriculture, microfinance and renewable energy. He led the strategic planning and business development efforts, including fund-raising. Venkat holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. He was a Sloan Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia and Masters in Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. His Bachelor’s degree in Engineering is from Osmania University College of Engineering, Hyderabad. Sylvia Calfat: Sylvia has 10 years experience working with the agricultural sector and small producer organizations. Most recently, Sylvia has worked for BSD, a sustainability consultancy firm, leading projects in the agricultural sector including GRI reports, sustainability strategies and applied research. Sylvia also supported social entrepreneurs in the development of a Fairtrade & Fairmined value driven business model and led projects for strategy development for sustainable coffee supply chain financing in Colombia and Guatemala. Prior to BSD, Sylvia worked for Fairtrade International’s certification branch, FLO-CERT, as auditor and certification analyst for Brazil, as well as regional certification manager for Colombia for almost 6 years. Some of the work performed as regional certification manager included: studying and understanding the national context for the cotton, coffee, orange, fresh fruit, cocoa, flower and banana supply chains, evaluating audit reports, issuing certification decisions and developing regional certification policies. Sylvia is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Tadeo Cwierz: Tadeo Cwierz leads SourceTrace’s business strategy, sales and solution delivery in Latin America, which includes Central and South American countries. He also has the additional role of setting the overall technology strategy including solution and application architecture, and evaluation of new technologies. Tadeo comes with more than 14 years of experience in technology and business leadership. He has extensive experience in design and deployment of mobile applications solutions for financial inclusion, agriculture, manufacturing and distribution & logistics in remote locations in Central and South America, Mexico and Spain, having led software projects right from concept to delivery and support. Since joining SourceTrace, Tadeo is based out of Costa Rica and has held various leadership roles including business development, solution delivery and support of mobile applications for the microfinance and agriculture value chain. In this role Tadeo has worked with several farmer cooperatives, commodity firms, microfinance institutions and government agencies. Tadeo began his career as Information Technology and Information Security advisor for KPMG Argentina and KPMG Costa Rica. Tadeo has a Master’s degree in “Internet Marketing and New Economies” from Universidad de Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from UTN-FRBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Corporate Staff, Non-profit Staff, Technologist.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Auditors, Brands, Corporations, Farmer or Farmer Associations, Factory Owners, Policymakers, Researchers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Technologists, Trading Companies.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Access to Finance, Accountability, Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Anti-forced Labor or Anti-Human Trafficking, Physical Working Conditions, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Capacity Building, Data, Technology.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Hidden from View: Conditions in Forests, Farms, and Factories are Only Visible to a Select Few, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?
● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

COSA and SourceTrace are key leaders in their industries and have come together for this project.