The Cotton Coalition is a concerted effort to promote organic cotton systems and improve farmer skills in organic and Fairtrade cotton in West Africa. The coalition is sustained by the cotton producer organizations from Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Senegal including AProCA and works closely with the national cotton societies, the Swiss based organizations ecos and FiBL and their cotton partners from the international organic and Fairtrade movement and Textile Exchange.
Q: What is your main focus at the moment?
the sales of the production of the season 2018/19 should be finished by August 2019. It should be sold to various spinners world-wide, which could serve the different production-markets, so that potential coalition partners could see, what kind of yarn/fabric in which quality can be produced at which price. The season 2019/20 has started with putting the seeds in June 2019. The harvest should be in October/November 2019. We are looking at partners of the coalition along the vertical textile-value-chain and at financial partners, that can help build up the CCBE. A PPP (Public Private Partnership) is planned to be fixed between GIZ and MaxTex. In Nov. 2019 a regional workshop of producers and inJanuary 2020 the SICOT conference are planned.
Q: Can you share any environmental or socio-economic quantitative information/data related to the impact of your work?
The CCBE wants to have a positive impact especially in the following fields:
Small-farmers: We are working with fairtrade (FLO) certification. Farmers should get a fair minimum price for their cotton. The yields should be as high as possible and we want to look at the whole farmer income (other (rotation) crops). The fairtrade premium should support the whole community.
Environment: We want to have positive impact on the environment through organic farming. The producer organisations are working very closely together, especially in generating best organic treatment, organic fertilisers, organic pesticides, organic cotton seeds.
Climate-Change: We want to put a special focus on climate-change issues. We want to measure the CO2 footprint.
Q: What do you like about working in this particular region of the world?
West Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world. We have very motivated (especially female) farmers and an extensive farming system, which fits very well with organic farming. The climate is quite positive for cotton cultivating (rainy season, hot temperatures and dry periods). Cotton is a very important cash-crop and could bring additionnal cash-income, especially, if they get the fairtrade-price, which is about 30% higher than conventionnal price. We can reach 100’000’s of small farmer families. West Africa could be ideal to serve European textile-production with cotton.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
West Africa is far away from the global textile industry. 97% of the cotton production is exported on the world-market, going mainly to East-Asia. It is not easy to bring this cotton into the value-chains of the potential partners of the coalition. We are working in a quite fragile environment. Politcally and economically the work is not so easy. At the beginning, there is a need for external funds, to build up successfully the CCBE (Coalition/Structure; production services; innovative IT-Tool; institutionnel setting; value-added locally). This start-costs can not be integrated into the future development. We need commited partners and funders.
Q: Where do you see your project / initiative in five years’ time?
In 2024, the organic & fairtrade cotton production should reach 15’000 tons of fiber (37’000 tons of raw cotton). 50’000 small-farm-households should be part, reaching 500’000 persons. In 2025 the coalition should be as big and strong, that all the external costs can be integrated. The CCBE is a business-unit, which covers all the costs, is able to invest the earnings in further growth and brings organic & fairtrade cotton to the market that is competitive and in a very good quality. Organic Farming and especially organic cotton farming is well established in the region, a success-story and part of the countries agriculture strategies. In all the countries involved have own organic cotton gins and local textile industry is growing.