Damien Sanfilippo, Global Product Manager for Cotton at Fairtrade International, told fibre2fashion, “We are currently developing an ambitious strategy and overhauling the way we work with cotton, which will allow significant expansion of Fairtrade certified cotton in the mainstream textile sector. The aim is to allow millions of small scale cotton farmers to benefit from a fair and sustainable income.”
“About 5 million cotton farmers from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) including Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad are smallholders, who grow cotton on an average of 1-2 hectares of land,” he adds.
Mr. Sanfilippo informs, “Poverty is widespread and for most of the cotton farmers, it is the only cash crop they are able to grow. But unfortunately, market prices for cotton are too low to offer them a decent income which will also have a negative impact on the economy of these countries.”
“The key factors for low cotton prices are competition with cheap synthetic fibres such as polyester as well as subsidies paid by major producer countries like the US”, he says.
He opines, “Fairtrade will continue to focus its efforts on areas where cotton is produced by small-scale farmers in LDC as well as in countries like India, where small-scale farmers continue to suffer from unfavorable conditions of trade which keep them in extreme poverty.”
“Our member organizations have carried out a number of campaigns to draw attention of plight to cotton farmers. One example is a short film by Max Havelaar France ‘On The Trail of Fairtrade Cotton’, which shows the impact of Fairtrade on cotton farmers in several villages in Senegal”, he says.
He adds, “Another example is ‘The Great Cotton Stitch Up’ campaign in the UK which calls for an end to EU and the US cotton subsides, which are having a devastating effect on West African cotton farmers.”
Fairtrade International works with farmers and workers, to improve their lives through fairer trade. The main priority of the organization is to create an alternative approach to conventional trade. Products that meet the Fairtrade Standards bear the FAIRTRADE Mark, a registered trade mark that appears on more than 27,000 products in 120 countries. Over 1.2 million small farmers and workers in 66 countries benefit from Fairtrade.
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