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Cotton Made In Africa initiative a spur to enlarge the market for sustainable cotton

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2014-02-16 06:00:00 – LUSAKA

The Aid by Trade Foundation has come up with a win-win solution for clothing suppliers and African cotton farmers; it follows an innovative approach in development cooperation. The Cotton made in Africa Initiative follows the principles of “social business”; this is aid by trade, helping people to help themselves by means of commercial activities. The African smallholder farmers who have joined this initiative are partners on an equal footing.

Nearly 70,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Côte d'Ivoire benefit from the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative's program for the first time and are able to market CmiA-tested cotton. In this way, the initiative is further expanding its cooperation with smallholder families in Sub-Saharan Africa and making a significant contribution to improving their living conditions.

According to the Human Development Index of the United Nations, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Côte d'Ivoire are among the least developed countries in the world. In order to fully realize their potential, particular in the agricultural sector, CmiA focuses on sustainable and efficient cotton production. For the first time, the initiative is active in Ghana and cooperates with roughly 9,000 local smallholder farmers and the cotton company Olam. CmiA has already successfully contributed to improving the living conditions of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Côte d'Ivoire. After successfully receiving CmiA standard certification, an additional 61,000 cotton farmers and the cotton companies Alliance in Zimbabwe and Zambia and Seco in Côte d'Ivoire are now initiative partners.

Through training programs, Cotton made in Africa teaches cotton farmers about modern, efficient, and environmentally friendly cultivation methods that help them improve the quality of their cotton, yield higher crops, and thus earn a better income.

Christoph Kaut, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, is pleased about this latest milestone as not only the farmers but also their family members profit from the newly established cooperations with CmiA. In Ghana they are able to reach about 100,000 persons, in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Côte d'Ivoire roughly 486,000. This is a great success for all participants in the cotton growing regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and for their initiative. In total, about 435,000 smallholder farmers and with their family members included more than 3.2 million people currently participate in the CmiA program.

The initiative operates in accordance with sound business methods, except that it does not aim to maximise the profits of individuals, but rather to improve the conditions of life of a large number of African cotton farmers. In order to do that, it is building an alliance of international retail companies, which have targeted demand in the global market for sustainably produced cotton, and use this material in their products. Cotton made in Africa acts in accordance with the rules of the market, avoiding subsidies or interventions in the system of world market prices, which are dependent on supply and demand as are the prices of practically all raw materials.

In return for the right to produce garments labelled Cotton made in Africa, the members of the Demand Alliance pay licence fees to the Foundation. The licence earnings are reinvested in the African project regions.

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