Sustainable textile production starts with smallholder farmers

24.04.2014

To commemorate the collapse of the textile factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh exactly one year ago, the international Fashion Revolution Day calls on consumers to ask about the origin of their own clothing with this year’s motto “Who made your clothes?”. The Cotton made in Africa initiative supports the global day of action to raise awareness for smallholder farmers in Africa who are at the beginning of the textile chain.

10 percent of cotton traded worldwide comes from Sub-Saharan Africa. Cotton sales account for about 50 percent of the cash income of smallholder farmers. However, the income of 80 percent of African cotton farmers is still under $1.50 per day. In addition, traditional cultivation of the raw material can significantly harm the environment. This is an issue Cotton made in Africa is committed to. Since 2005, farmers have received training in environmentally friendly farming methods, and at the same time the initiative has established an alliance of textile companies which purchases the sustainably produced cotton and pays a licensing fee to the initiative. This revenue is re-invested in the African project regions and benefits the smallholder farmers and their families in the poorest regions of the world.

For Tina Stridde, the question “Who made you clothes?” is directly related to the origin of the raw material as she explains, “We work together with people who are at the beginning of the value chain and thus lay the foundation for sustainable textile production.”