A total of 580,000 tons of cotton were certified according to the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) standard in 2018. CmiA was thus able to significantly increase the volume of sustainably produced cotton by almost 17 percent compared to the previous year. Around one million smallholder farmers from ten African countries were part of the initiative and were trained in sustainable and efficient farming methods. The demand for CmiA cotton on the market also rose by more than 14 percent compared to 2017. Currently, 46 international fashion brands and textile companies now purchase CmiA cotton on the international textile production markets. Their demand amounts to 103 million textiles with the CmiA label.
“With Cotton made in Africa, textile companies get more than just cotton. They show that sustainability and profitability go very well hand in hand,” says Tina Stridde, Managing Director of CmiA. “At the same time, international textile companies and brands are strong partners for smallholder farmers. For each textile piece, they pay licensing fees which finance the work in Africa. We are pleased that we have been able to successfully expand the demand for CmiA in the market thanks to 46 retailers and fashion brands.” CmiA is currently working with smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Ghana, as well as in Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. With the addition of new partners in Nigeria and Benin, the initiative expands its network from the 2018/2019 season. Whereas more than 100 registered spinning partners and textile producers worldwide work with CmiA in the textile chain now – 85 have been registered in 2018. About 37 percent of the total cotton production in Africa is CmiA-certified. CmiA-cotton is processed in 19 textile production markets worldwide – thereof seven in Africa.
International textile companies are strong partners for smallholder farmers
The Otto Group is the largest buyer with Bonprix heading the list. Roughly 93 percent of the cotton purchased and processed by Bonprix is CmiA-certified. “The close collaboration with Cotton made in Africa is an important leverage for us in achieving our goal of exclusively demanding sustainably produced cotton by 2020,” says Stefanie Sumfleth, Head of Quality Management, Corporate Responsibility & Digital Product Development at Bonprix. “We are convinced that together with CmiA, we make a valuable contribution to protecting people and the environment.” Other major buyers of the sustainably produced cotton are the REWE Group, Tchibo, ALDI SÜD, and ASOS as well as Ernsting’s family, Vlisco Group, Engelbert Strauss, and Bestseller. In addition to the big players, smaller fair fashion brands such as Hiitu, Cooee Kids, and Weaverbirds also rely on the sustainability label. Aldi Nord recently joined as new licensing partner.
All textile companies pay license fees to the initiative to use the certified cotton. CmiA reinvests the money in the farming regions to fund e.g. the costs of certification. In 2018, 26 regular audits took place, 12 in the field and 14 in the ginneries. Ginneries are factories where the cotton fiber is separated from the seeds. The independent and internationally recognized companies EcoCert and AfriCert conducted the certifications on behalf of the AbTF. A total of 19 African auditors were deployed in 2018. The external controls ensure that the exclusion criteria such as the ban on genetically modified seeds, the exclusion of artificial irrigation and certain dangerous pesticides are respected, and that the development criteria, such as measures to maintain soil fertility or gender equality, are improved. Income from licensing fees also finance agricultural trainings as well as “Farmer Business Schools” for smallholder farmers, where they learn basic business management skills. In addition, farming communities are sensitized to social issues such as the empowerment of women on their way to economic and social independence, to name just one. As part of the CmiA Community Cooperation Program, numerous projects to support the village communities were implemented in close cooperation with certified cotton companies in 2018. A central focus was the empowerment of women and children. A total of 254,000 euros have been paid in 2018 as project funds for school projects, income-generating measures for women or access to clean drinking water.
Founder Prof. Dr. med. Michael Otto concludes: “It is the courage and strength of our partners in Africa and around the world that spurs us on and motivates us every day to continue working with them on the success of our initiative and that allows us to look to the future with great optimism.”
Depending on the project country, cotton is cultivated, harvested and ginned at different times due to different climatic zones in sub-Saharan Africa. The information gives a review of the 2017/2018 season. The numbers are rounded and include CmiA and CmiA Organic.