Sainsbury’s is to source all of its Fairtrade cotton from a co-operative supplier in Gujarat, India.

The grocer has committed to buying a year’s worth of cotton during the harvest period. It said this will allow farmers to plan how they use their money, as they will have a guaranteed annual income. It will also provide advance payments of the Fairtrade premiums, which can be used for community projects.

Ninad Gupte, from the  Project Executive Body Agrocel, said: “Sainsbury’s is the largest consumer of Fairtrade cotton from our projects in Gujarat. Cotton prices are very unstable so guaranteeing our farmers a minimum price and pre-financing the Fairtrade social premium, offers security that has not been possible in the past.

“Through this initiative, our farmers cooperative body has been able to improve conditions by investing in projects like providing clean drinking water and health check ups.”

Liz Jarman, Sainsbury’s head of Fairtrade said: “Clothing is a major feature of Sainsbury’s Fairtrade offer and we are proud to be supporting cotton farmers in a way which has not been seen before. Sainsbury’s sells an average of 250 Fairtrade t-shirts per hour, which means a total Fairtrade premium of $250,000 per year to benefit cotton farmers in Gujarat.”

Around 1,200 small farmers will benefit from the initiative.

Sainsbury’s is the largest retailer of Fairtrade products, with one in every four pounds spent on Fairtrade in the UK being spent in a Sainsbury’s store.

Fairtrade Fortnight starts on February 28.