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Cotton made in Africa benefits more than one million farmers

By Simone Preuss


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For the first time since its inception in 2005, the sustainable cotton initiative Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) cooperates with more than one million cotton farmers, 17 percent of whom are women. In 2017, a record sum of 90 million textiles bore the CmiA quality label. This was announced by the initiative in a press release on Thursday.

“Africa is close to my heart - both personally and as a businessman, I feel very connected to our neighbouring continent. When I founded the Cotton made in Africa initiative back in 2005, I was very aware about the fact that our future also depends on overcoming the big challenges in Africa. Here, CmiA offers solutions and a chance to positively touch the lives of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa,“ commented CmiA founder Dr. Michael Otto on the positive development.

In 2017, the number of textiles that bore the CmiA label increased by 79 percent compared to the previous year, reaching a new record high. “We achieved a record of about 90 million CmiA labelled textiles. Sustainability is not a niche product anymore”, stressed Tina Stridde, managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. “Every textile that bears the CmiA label is a step in the right direction. Because every CmiA-labelled product protects the environment and supports millions of people in Africa in creating a new perspective for themselves in their home country”, added Stridde.

For each textile with CmiA label, partner companies pay a license fee that flows back into the project areas. Thus, instead of collecting donations, the initiative has chosen a market approach. A total of 36 companies and brands currently order CmiA cotton - among them the Otto Group, the Rewe Group, Tchibo, Aldi Süd, Jack & Jones, Asos and smaller fair fashion brands such as Hiitu and Cooekid from Uganda.

The initiative also put together a few general numbers: On average, a CmiA smallholder farmer has a crop area of just under 1.5 hectares. In addition to farmers, more than 11,000 factory workers in the African cotton processing industry are part of the initiative. Around 496,000 metric tons of ginned cotton from Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda have been produced according to the CmiA sustainability criteria in 2017.

The label for sustainable cotton stands for environmental protection and training in sustainable and modern cotton cultivation. The training enables smallholder farmers to improve their working and living conditions through their own efforts. In addition, CmiA certifies the work in the so-termed ginneries, the first step in the further processing of cotton.

Photo: Dr. Michael Otto, Otto Group
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Cotton made in Africa