West African organic cotton sector gains momentum

Article from Apparel Insider | Published April 28 by Brett Matthews

US textile industry NGO, Textile Exchange, has announced the launch of a Regional Organic Roundtable to help develop the organic cotton sector in West Africa. The announcement comes closely on the back of recent news that West Africa’s first organic cotton gin is now up and running in Burkina Faso, which is shifting away from GM cultivated cotton.

The Roundtable is part of a new collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on a series of organic cotton focused activities in West Africa. These also include a Market Opportunity Scoping Project (MOSP) and a documentary-style video showcasing the region’s organic cotton sector.

The launch of the organic roundtable will take place in Koudougou, about 100 km from Ouagadougou, during SICOT (Salon International du Coton et du Textile), 27-29 September 2018.

“The aim of the Salon is to expose and promote Burkina cotton as an industry for capital investment into cotton processing,” said a note from Textile Exchange. “It will be an opportunity to increase international trade by creating linkages between cotton companies, UNPCB (the National Cotton Producers Union of Burkina, our partner), and buyers from all over the world.”

The Regional OCRT will be a one-day event during the Salon, focusing on organic cotton and bringing together key stakeholders. The results of the MOSP will provide the basis for discussions on the day, with the aim being to find solutions to the region’s main barriers to growth.

Textile Exchange also recently announced the first organic cotton gin in West Africa. The gin, in Burkina Faso, is a collaboration between the USDA-funded RECOLTE project, CRS, UNPCB, and SOFITEX. It is hoped the gin will be up and running by early 2019.

Added Textile Exchange: “The installation of the plant will enable UNPCB (National Union Of Cotton Growers Of Burkina) to resolve bottlenecks related to delayed ginning of organic cotton. This, in turn, will encourage growth in organic cotton production and international trade. Currently, organic cotton is ginned six months later than conventional cotton, which delays the entire production chain and payment to producers, and in turn discourages timely organic cotton production and participation.”

In recent years, Ministers in Burkina Faso have outlined plans to reduce the area of GM cotton under cultivation.

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