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BCI & CmiA partner to support sustainable African cotton
31
Jul '12
The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), have signed an interim partnership agreement that should see increased effectiveness and efficiency in promoting greater sustainability to African smallholder farmers as well as delivering sustainable solutions for the textile and fashion industry in Europe and North America.

CmiA focuses on improving the living conditions of smallholder cotton farmers in Africa, while BCI does the same with both smallholders and large producers globally. As both initiatives have a mandate of improving ecological, social and economic conditions in the cotton industry, and share complementary approaches, collaborating made good sense.

The 18-month interim agreement commits the partners to establish “sound structures on both sides, allowing for an optimum exchange of views, ideas and issues of special interest”. Among other things, these special interests cover the fight against child labour, delivering Integrated Pest Management (IPM) more effectively, and developing pragmatic systems to connect supply with demand.

The partnership is already yielding results, as BCI and CmiA are immediately offering an attractive way for BCI members to procure CmiA cotton. As of 1 July 2012, CmiA verified cotton (from the 2012 harvest onwards) can be sold as Better Cotton. Providing an excellent proof of concept, this offer will also appeal to those in the industry who have been seeking greater volumes of Better Cotton from Africa. Christoph Kaut, Managing Director for AbTF, highlighted that this would not only “provide immediate exposure to new markets for CmiA and Better Cotton, but would also lead to greater efficiencies and delivers benefits for the African smallholder cotton farmers”.

The collaboration between BCI and CmiA further defines activities that include an exchange on subjects like impact assessment, verification and financing models. The hope on both sides is that these are the first steps on a much longer journey to bring greater sustainability to the cotton industry.

Lise Melvin, Executive Director of BCI, underlining Africa’s important role in the goal of making Better Cotton a mainstream commodity, promised that “we will always remain committed to ensuring the future of more sustainable African cotton and improving farmers’ lives and their environment”.

Cotton made in Africa (CmiA)

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