Peru News: The Road of Native Cotton Colors

The Country's nasent Center for Innovation and Rural Development is proposing a "ruta del algodón nativo de colores" - or "road of native cotton colors" - designes to preserve regional biodiversity, promote rich Peruvian history, and boost tourism. 

Five years in the making, the route includes some of the few remaining strongholds of the crop, which has been supplanted in recent decades by higher-yield hybrid strains and government subsidized US cotton. The project, which is expected to launch in July at a cost of $3.27 million USD, includes Ica, Lima, Ancash, La Libertad, Lambayeque, and The Amazon. 370 acres of land in six Lambayeque districts have been allotted for raising native cotton. Planting is planned to begin in mid-2012. 

Native Cotton comes in color-grown hues, including Russet, brown, copper, and green.

Taxonomically Known as Gossypium Barbadense but simply known as country cotton to locals, Peruvian cotton is cultivated the same way it was always been: no chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides. In addition to the budding white bolls of traditional cotton, varieties will also come in the color-grown hues of browns and greens. Over time colored cotton fell out of favor as it is shorter fibers and yields less cotton in general. However, coupled with its inability to compete with US cotton and the commercially superior all-white strains, Peruvian cotton is practically extinct.

Now the naturally colored cotton is on its way to a revival. Brands such as Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, and Esprit, have shown interest in the material and since fields across the countryside have shifted from cocoa to cocaine and now to cotton. 

The route is expected to attract tourists who are interested in Peru's agricultural history, as well as designers who wish to connect with producers (THATS US!) 

How do you feel about this? Would you like to see naturally colored cotton revived? Would you be more likely to buy it knowing now that it directly helps the economy of Peru and the cotton is practically extinct? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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