- Simone Preuss |
After Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia, Ethiopia is the tenth country to support sustainable cotton farming through Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), an initiative by the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF). It cooperates locally with the Ethiopian Cotton Producers, Exporters and Ginners Association (ECPGEA) and together with the new entrant, the initiative now reaches over 5 million people in Africa.
"With the addition of Ethiopia, there are now round about 650,000 smallholder farmers growing cotton according to the CmiA sustainability standards. With their family members included, this totals over 5.5 million people in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa", confirmed Christoph Kaut, AbTF's managing director.
"Our standard is specifically aimed at smallholder farmers in our project countries who only have a small plot of land and who are most in need of support. In order to protect the environment and vital resources, the exploitation of primary forests is forbidden, as is encroachment into established protected areas, the use of genetically modified seeds, and artificial irrigation", added Kaut.
In 2014, over 150,000 tonnes of CmiA cotton were produced, a figure that is likely to rise significantly in 2015 due to the latest successful verifications in Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Cameroon.
Apart from quantity, the CmiA standard is also about quality and social justice for cotton farmers and workers in the ginning factories as well as promoting healthy living conditions and the protection of the environment. In practice, this means agricultural and business training for the smallholder farmers but also fair contracts with the cotton companies and reliable payment for their crops.