The Cotton made in Africa Initiative and Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI) invited to the 5th Stakeholder Conference in Livingston Zambia. Over 90 representatives from cotton businesses, farmer cooperatives, textile companies and NGOs from Africa, Europe and the USA met from October 12-14 in Livingstone at Victoria Falls to learn from one another and engage in discussion.
The fact that representatives from the entire textile value chain reported on their work made this meeting so special: These included a South African fashion designer, a representative from the Tchibo company and cotton farmers, all of whom highlighted their work and experience with CmiA and COMPACI from a wide range of perspectives. The topics selected for presentation were richly varied. Talks and working groups provided participants with an opportunity to hear about the results of the first assessment of project success in the project areas, for example, or about greener pesticides and optimised seeds. A panel discussion with representatives from the UK, Germany and the USA provided insight into the challenges and opportunities for the international marketing of Cotton made in Africa.
The exchange of ideas and experience among farmer representatives and cotton companies in the individual African project countries was particularly fruitful for participants. Reports from countries like Zambia, Cameroon or Benin offered excellent opportunities to learn from one another and enter into conversation.
After the conference, a 12-person delegation continued travelling to Lusaka to learn first-hand about the immediate implementation of the work of COMPACI and CmiA in the field. The Dunavant Zambia cotton company organised the trip which included a visit to a smallholder farmer involved in the CmiA initiative. She was recently given access to a tractor to assist her in working her fields, which will have a positive effect on her labour and yield. The group also enjoyed a demonstration of “good agricultural practises” at an award-winning teaching farm and visited a primary school. The school had undergone renovation and expansion as part of a social project co-sponsored by the Otto Group, Dunavant Zambia and DEG. Over all the entire school project will provide around 7,000 girls and boys in the Zambian project region with a better school infrastructure and as such increase their access to education.