Just launched! A powerful and thought-provoking interview series that will give you 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.

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)

Friday 28th September saw the launch of Textile Exchange’s first Regional Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) for West Africa, held in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and USDA during the Salon International du Cotton et du Textiles (SICOT). The meeting was attended by over one hundred participants, including a large number of producers from across the region as well as representatives from governments, NGOs, ginners, traders, manufacturers, brands, and exporters.

The agenda for the Regional OCRT was framed around insights from the recent Market Opportunity Scoping Project carried out by Change Agency for Textile Exchange. See next tab for more detail on the MOSP and to download the full Discussion Document.

We were honoured to have Harouna Kabore, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Handicrafts, officially open the Regional OCRT in Koudougou. After the opening from Minister Harouna Kabore, Boubacar Kamisskho, Chief of Party of CRS/ RECOLTE, gave a warm welcome to participants before we heard a recorded welcome also from Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, a member of the UK House of Lords who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion (watch her welcome in the video to the right).

Textile Exchange’s Silvère Tovignan and Liesl Truscott then introduced Textile Exchange and some of it’s key work in organic cotton to date, including a preview of the soon-to-be-released 2018 Organic Cotton Market Report.

Sabali Meschi and Simon Cooper from Change Agency went on to present the key findings of the MOSP. A number of thought-starters gave insights from their experience on six of the key themes identified, including representatives from Ethical Apparel Africa, OBEPAB, Bureau de la Coopération Suisse, Africa Fashion Guide, CRS, FENABE, FiBL. Participants then discussed in small groups what could be done by 1) brands and retailers, 2) governments and NGOs, and 3) the supply chain, in order to accelerate progress in these key areas. A selection of the responses were fed back to the wider group for discussion. A summary of these responses and the key discussion points will be added to the MOSP Discussion Document in the coming days.

Week Overview
Thu 27th Sept: SICOT
Fri 28th Sept: SICOT Panel Discussion on organic cotton | Regional OCRT | Gala Dinner
Sat 29th Sept: Organic Cotton Field Trip
Agenda (EN) Agenda (FR)

The Agenda for the 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. Appreciative Inquiry works on the assumption that whatever you want more of already exists in the situation you are looking at. While traditional problem-solving dissects a system looking for problems, Appreciative Inquiry works to uncover the forces that give life and energy to a system. Traditional inquiry asks “what problems are you having?”; Appreciative Inquiry looks at “what is working well in this situation, and how can we have more of that?”

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 needed – along 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.

Use the links below to download the full MOSP Discussion Document:

MOSP Discussion Document (FR) MOSP Discussion Document (EN)

The Organic and Fairtrade Cotton Coalition West Africa (CCBE), which launched last December, also held a very insightful meeting in Koudougou just prior to SICOT. The aim of this multi-stakeholder initiative is to provide market access for tens of thousands of small-scale organic farming families in West Africa, specifically Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Senegal.

The meeting, held on Wednesday 26th September, bought together many of the producers and other key stakeholders involved in the CCBE to present their perspectives on the current challenges and solutions in the organic & Fairtrade cotton industry in West Africa. The 5 Pillars of the Coalition were also presented, which include: Market Services; Information Services; Production Services; Institutional Setting; and Value adding locally.

Textile Exchange is happy to be a partner of the CCBE and looks forward to continuing the collaboration.

Learn more about the CCBE


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 Coalitionaboutorganiccotton.org (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

Video Insights

Don’t miss our full Out of the Box interview series showcasing West Africa’s cotton trailblazers! Available here.

Regional OCRT Burkina Faso 2018: Highlights

Regional OCRT Burkina Faso: Opening address from Baroness Young of Hornsey
Interview highlights from four participants of our Market Opportunity Scoping Project


Key insights into the Market Opportunity Scoping Project (MOSP) recently carried out by Change Agency for Textile Exchange are now available. The MOSP framework 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 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)

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.


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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: OCRT@textileexchange.org