organic & preferred cotton



Over the last few years, Textile Exchange has deepened its support of organic and preferred cotton production in Africa in a number of ways. This page is where you can access the latest information on these activities.

There are considerable opportunities for growth of organic and preferred cotton production and processing across Africa, and for cross-fertilization of ideas and best practices between and within countries and initiatives. So, too, is there a rapidly growing demand from brands for organically grown fiber, with local to global brands increasing their use of organic cotton year over year. There is huge potential for Africa to capitalize on this, particularly on European companies’ need and desire to reduce their carbon footprint and support more local and sustainable cotton production.

Why Africa? Hear from participants of our 2018 Regional OCRT in Koudougou, Burkina Faso.

Regional Organic Cotton Round Table | West Africa

Textile Exchange has found that bringing people together at the regional level from all parts of the supply network is a powerful way to catalyze action by bringing specific regional opportunities into focus, strengthening existing efforts and initiatives, and shaping customized approaches. This is what led to the launch of the Regional Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) in Izmir, Turkey, in 2017 and 2018, and again in China in 2019. The first Regional OCRT West Africa was held in Burkina Faso in 2018 – and we are excited to be back in 2020! Read more below.

2020 Regional OCRT | January 31 | Koudougou

Textile Exchange was delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate on hosting the second Regional Organic Cotton Round Table West Africa on January 31, 2020 in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Organic & Fairtrade Cotton Coalition West Africa (CCBE – represented by ecos and FiBL) and the UNPCB. The event was once held in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, during the International Cotton and Textile Fair (SICOT).

The aim of the Regional OCRT was to identify the opportunities for growth in the organic and fairtrade cotton sector in West Africa, and for developing manufacturing infrastructure and textile value chains. In addition to the partners mentioned above, the event was further supported by the Swiss Cooperation (SDC) through Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Handicrafts of Burkina Faso, and by the German government (GIZ/BMZ).

Read even summary prepared by ecos Workshop results | Résultats des ateliers (EN & FR)


08:10 – 09:00 | Session 1:

Good practices in the artisanal and industrial production and transformation of organic & Fairtrade cotton in West Africa – lessons learnt, ways forward and opportunities

09:00 – 09:35 | Session 2:

Organic & Fairtrade Cotton Coalition West Africa: Current and past activities, commitments and perspectives

09:35 – 09:45 | Break

09:45 – 11:00 | Session 3:

Workshop in three groups:
Group 1: Organic & Fairtrade cotton production
Group 2: Manufacturing and industrial transformation
Group 3: Commercialisation of organic & Fairtrade cotton

Official registration for SICOT

All participants are required to register on the official SICOT homepage free of charge ( You will be requested to provide information about yourself, your company and the events you would like to attend. Note: certain browsers have issues with this page. If the page stays blank, please try a different browser.

Official registration for the Regional Organic Cotton Round Table 

During your registration for the SICOT, please tick the box for participating in the „Table ronde 2: Développement de la chaîne de valeur du coton biologique“ on January 31st from 08:00-11:00.


For participants of SICOT 2020, the visa for entering Burkina Faso is free of charge and will be issued upon arrival at the airport, but it must be requested in advance.

To request a visa, please write an email to with and in CC, and make sure to include the following information:

  1. Attach a photo or scan of your passport
  2. Attach a photo or scan of your flight itinerary
  3. Provide the following details:
    1. Last Name
    2. First Name
    3. Nationality
    4. Date of Birth
    5. Passport Number
    6. Date of Issue of Passport
    7. Passport Expiry Date
    8. Company
    9. Arrival Date & Flight Number
    10. Departure Date & Flight Number

You should receive a confirmation e-mail and an official document with the title “Promesse de Visa d’Entrée et de Court Séjour”, which you should print and bring with you on the trip.

International Service Package – 500 Euro

To make your stay in Burkina Faso as pleasant as possible, SICOT offers an International Service Package for 500 Euro. The package includes the following and will be invoiced (500 Euro) directly by SICOT.

  1. Pick-up/drop-off: VIP welcome & transport from/to Ouagadougou airport
  2. Transportation: safe escort from Ouagadougou to Koudougou and back
  3. Accommodation: 1 night in Ouagadougou and 2 nights in Koudougou
  4. Meals: 3 breakfasts and 2 lunches

To book the International Service Package, please write an email to with and in CC, and include the following information:

  1. Last Name
  2. First Name
  3. Hotel Request in Koudougou: Splendid Hotel
  4. Billing Address         
  5. Nationality
  6. Passport Number
  7. Arrival Date & Flight Number
  8. Departure Date & Flight Number
Medical Recommendations

All foreign participants travelling to Burkina Faso for the International Cotton and Textile Fair (SICOT) must be in possession of a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. It is also recommended to be vaccinated against hepatitis and cholera. As malaria is a widespread disease in Burkina Faso, it is also advisable to take the necessary prophylactic measures.


There are security concerns in Burkina Faso at present and some governments are advising against travel to the country. Please check the security advisory page of your foreign ministry for more details.

Currently, the security situation in Ouagadougou and Koudougou, as well as the transfer route between the two, is considered safe: none of the regions lie in the dangerous ‘red zone’. To guarantee that the organizers of the SICOT accompany you from the airport to the conference venue and back, it is important to sign in on the official SICOT homepage with contact details to inform SICOT that you are attending. We recommend that you regularly check the security advisory page of your foreign ministry for the latest details.

Friday 28th September 2018 saw the launch of Textile Exchange’s first Regional Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) in West Africa, held in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, in collaboration with CRS and USDA during the inaugural Salon International du Cotton et du Textiles (SICOT). The agenda for the Regional OCRT was framed around insights from the recent Market Opportunity Scoping Project (MOSP) carried out by Change Agency for Textile Exchange, which were also presented during a panel discussion during the conference on “Organic Cotton’s Contribution to the Economic Growth of African Countries”. The Organic and Fairtrade Cotton Coalition West Africa (CCBE) also held a very insightful meeting just prior to SICOT, with attendance and valuable input from a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from many of the producer groups involved.

Re-cap on the week’s activities here Agenda (EN) Agenda (FR)


Textile Exchange’s Global Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) has evolved to become THE shared space for the organic cotton community to get together and learn more about issues facing the organic cotton sector, to diagnose these issues and, most importantly, find ways to take action. Since its inception, the OCRT has focused on addressing key challenges in the stability and sustainable growth of the organic cotton sector through three Task Forces: Business Models, Seed and Soils, and Consumer Engagement.

Under these Task Forces, the OCRT has identified a number of initiatives and has either catalyzed, or been an incubator for, their development. Such initiatives include the Organic Cotton Accelerator, the Chetna (a microsite dedicated to organic cotton), an inventory of non-GMO seed availability, and the OCRT Innovation Award.

Learn more about the OCRT

After six years of approaching barriers to growth in organic cotton at the global level through the Global OCRT, the benefits of regionalizing strategies for organic cotton has become increasingly apparent. Ultimately, the same issues and opportunities exist for all, but each region is at a different stage of development and therefore requires a different strategy, alongside designated resources and networks of supporters.

Textile Exchange has found that bringing people together at the regional level from all parts of the supply network is a powerful way to catalyze action by bringing specific regional opportunities into focus, strengthening existing efforts and initiatives, and shaping customized approaches.

Textile Exchange first introduced the concept of the Regional OCRT in Izmir in 2017, exploring opportunities for organic cotton in Turkey, Egypt and Central Asia, returning again in May 2018. The success in Izmir led to Textile Exchange’s collaboration with the Catholic Relief Services and the development of this new Regional OCRT in Burkina Faso. We are in an exciting position now where we can learn from our collective experience in other regions, tap into what works, and fast-track innovation and action!

Learn more about the Izmir Regional OCRT

pan-africa sourcing working group

Textile Exchange’s Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group was initiated at the 2016 Organic Cotton Round Table in Hamburg, when it was proposed that a group be established to work on the various priorities that had been identified for expanding organic cotton production in Africa and better connecting to supply networks. The group is chaired by Prama Bhardwaj, CEO of Mantis World, and currently has 34 individual members from 23 different companies and organizations with broad industry representation. The ultimate objective of the group is to develop and support the market for preferred/more sustainable cotton produced in Africa. If you’re interested in joining or finding out more about this working group, feel free to contact us at

White paper: The Threat of GM Technology and the Potential of Organic Cotton Agriculture in Africa

In light of the adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in several countries in Africa, Textile Exchange’s Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group is currently working on a white paper to present the arguments for organic and other non-GM cotton production methods in Africa, and the risks of introducing GMOs. The full white paper will officially be published at the start of 2020, but an abridged version was presented by Marco Paul, Co-CEO of bioRe Tanzania Ltd., on November 27, 2019 at the National Ecological Organic Agriculture Conference in Dodoma, Tanzania. We are pleased to see that the presentation caught media attention and was featured in a popular blog (in Swahili).

network meeting | Vancouver | October 17, 2019

On Thursday October 17, 2019, Textile Exchange’s Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group hosted a Network Meeting during the Textile Sustainability Conference in Vancouver. The event aimed to celebrate African cotton and highlight the work of some of the key stakeholders supporting organic and preferred cotton production across the continent.

Hear about some of the latest projects supporting sustainability in cotton production across the continent and meet some of those spearheading this important work, including regional farm group and government representatives and other key regional stakeholders.
Attendees also learnt about the new white paper being developed by this Working Group (see above), and had the chance to give their input.

  • Silvere Tovignan, Regional Ambassador – Africa, Textile Exchange| Benin
  • Prama Bhardwaj, CEO, Mantis World % Chair of Textile Exchange’s Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group | United Kingdom

Silvere Tovignan and Prama Bhardwaj opened the evening, presenting recent developments in the organic cotton sector in Africa and introducing the activities of the Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group.

Panel discussion

Moderator: Simon Cooper, Global Communications Lead, UNDP GCP


  • Christa Suter, CEO, bioRe Foundation | Switzerland
  • Heinrich Schultz, Managing Director, Organimark & Vice Chair of Textile Exchange’s Governance Board | South Africa
  • Lakshmi Poti, Programme Manager | Sustainable Raw Materials, C&A Foundation
  • Prama Bhardwaj, CEO, Mantis World % Chair of Textile Exchange’s Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group | United Kingdom
  • Roland Stelzer,          Managing Partner, Cotonea/Elmer & Zweifel | Germany
  • Silvere Tovignan, Regional Ambassador – Africa, Textile Exchange| Benin
  • Simplice Davo Vodouhe, Coordinator, OBEPAB, President, West Africa Organic Network & Professor, Abomey-Calavi University| Benin
  • Tobias Meier, Senior Project Manager Green Economy, ecos | Representent of the West Africa Organic & Fairtrade Cotton Coalition| Switzerland

Simon asked a series of questions to the panelist including:

  • What is the potential of organic cotton in Africa?
  • Why should a brand source organic cotton in Africa?
  • What to expect when sourcing in Africa?
  • What are you dreams for African OC cotton?
  • How to build sustainable business relationship between African organic cotton producers and international partners for the livelihood of African organic cotton producers?
  • How do you see the future of the organic cotton in Africa?

To close the panel, Boubacar Kamissokho and Kalo Millogo introduced the 2020 edition of the SICOT that will take place in Ougadougou (Burkina Faso) on January 30-31, 2020.

White paper presentation and discussion
  • Sandra Marquardt, President, On the Mark Public Relations & Regional Ambassador – USA, Textile Exchange

Sandra presented the white paper that the Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group has been working on, which outlines the benefits of organic and risks of genetically-modified for cotton production in Africa. Recommendations made in the white paper for different stakeholder groups were introduced and feedback was collected from attendees. The white paper is currently being finalized and will be published at the start of 2020. An abridged version was presented at the National Ecological Organic Agriculture Conference on November 27, 2019 in Dodoma, Tanzania, by Marco Paul, Co-CEO of bioRe Tanzania Ltd.

 Networking session

The evening closed with a networking session allowing attendees to exchange with each other. Attendees included regional farm group representative, government representatives, certifiers, cotton initiatives, brands, NGOs and other important stakeholders.

Video Insights

Filmed at the inaugural Regional OCRT West Africa in September 2018, Out of the Box Series 2 is a powerful and thought-provoking interview series providing a unique insight into the wealth of talent, knowledge and leadership that exists in West Africa’s cotton sector; a sector that is fast gaining attention on the international stage.

Regional OCRT Burkina Faso: Opening address from Baroness Young of Hornsey

CRS: The Power Behind Your Purchase

hessnatur: Organic Cotton in Burkina Faso

UNPCB’s Organic and Fairtrade Cotton Program

Market Opportunity Scoping Project

The Agenda for the 2018 Regional OCRT in Burkina Faso was framed around research interviews for the Market Opportunity Scoping Project (MOSP) carried out by Change Agency for Textile Exchange, in collaboration with CRS and USDA.

The MOSP is based on Appreciative Inquiry: asking questions of a range of stakeholders involved in cotton in Africa to unearth the positives in the situation and identify any blockages to progress. The results of the interviews were presented for the first time at the Regional OCRT in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, on 28th September 2018. Based on the many comments and suggestions made by interviewees, the discussion was grouped into three broad stakeholder categories looking at:

  • What can Governments and NGOs do?
  • What can the Value Chain do?
  • What can the Market do?

The key conclusion to come out of the interviews was that more collaboration is neededalong the value chain, between governments, and between Africa and the rest of the world. In each focus area above, specific ideas were discussed which will contribute to the collaborative approach. Regional OCRT delegates helped to shape the way forward and make an important contribution to the sector’s future success.

Interview highlights from four participants of our Market Opportunity Scoping Project


The agenda for the Regional Organic Cotton Round Table in Burkina Faso is framed around the results of the Market Opportunity Scoping Project (MOSP) carried out by Change Agency for Textile Exchange, in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services.

Download MOSP Discussion Paper (EN)
Download MOSP Discussion Paper (FR)

Status of Organic Cotton Production in Africa

The production of organic cotton is increasing worldwide, with Africa – led by Tanzania – growing approximately four percent of the global total in 2017/18. According to Textile Exchange’s latest Organic Cotton Market Report, eight African countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda – grew organic cotton in 2017/18. Tanzania is by far the largest organic cotton producing country on the continent, followed by (in order of rank) Uganda, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Egypt, Ethiopia and Senegal.

In total, there were 36,110 organic cotton farmers in Africa (including Egypt) growing 7,335 metric tons of cotton fiber on 68,540 hectares (ha) of land. An additional 2,755 ha were in transition to organic cotton between Tanzania (1,297 ha), Egypt (1,043 ha), and Mali (415 ha). Compared to 2016/17, this represents a 20 percent increase in organic cotton fiber production and a 46 percent increase in certified organic land under cotton production.

Quick Links

About organic cotton

Organic cotton is cotton that is produced and certified to organic agricultural standards.

Learn more


Preferred Fiber & Material Round Tables


2019 Market report

The 2019 Organic Cotton Market Report is now available, sharing the latest data and insights from the 2017/18 harvest.

Access here


The Corportate Fiber & Materials Benchmark (CFMB) helps companies measure, manage and integrate a preferred fiber & materials strategy.

Read more


A framework for assessing the environmental, social & economic impacts of organic cotton agriculture.

Learn more


A selection of some of the key terms and abbreviations used in the industry.


contact us

For more information, or to register your interest and receive updates about this event, don’t hesitate to contact the team at:

Organic Cotton & The SDGs

2018 High Level Political Forum

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of an inter-governmental agreement of the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly. The Global Goals provide a framework to be implemented by “all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership” around a set of 17 specific, aspirational goals that address the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Learn more about Textile Exchange’s work on the SDGs, and about how organic cotton can help achieve the SDGs.

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the main UN platform on sustainable development and has a central role in the follow-up and review of the SDGs at the global level.

The meeting of the HLPF in 2018 was held in New York in July, and the theme was “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. The goals reviewed included 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17.

Textile Exchange partnered with TMG Think Tank for Sustainability on a special side event focusing on Landscape Restoration for Food Security and Climate Adaptation, with examples from Africa. You can read a summary of the event here. Outcomes were also shared during the Regional OCRT in Burkina Faso in September 2018.

Meeting Summary

Did You Know?

In 2015-16, Burkina Faso was the biggest organic cotton producer of West Africa

The country produced 469 MT of organic cotton in 2015-16, on 4,928 ha certified land managed by 8,382 farmers. Check out Textile Exchange’s 2017 Organic Cotton Market Report for more details.

Cotton is an important part of Burkina Faso’s economy and the main cash crop for farmers.

Cotton is the second biggest export product after gold. The predominant form of agriculture in Burkina Faso is family farming. Farmers rely on rainfall to produce staple grains, cash crops, and livestock. Read more here.

Cotton is certified at national level under UNPCB. The organic and Fairtrade cotton program was started by HELVETAS Swiss intercooperation, and has had a strong impact on smallholder farmers, particularly women.

The first organic cotton gin in West Africa is currently in development.

The gin, located in Koudougou, is a collaboration between the USDA-funded RECOLTE project, CRS, UNPCB, and SOFITEX. It is hoped to be up and running by early 2019. Read more here.