The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought prompted the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) to use funds from the Otto Group to help two local non-governmental organizations - REDERC-ONG and OeBenin - to set up an eco-center in Benin in West Africa. The eco-center with adjoining library and teaching center shall improve the living conditions of the rural population in the region of Tanguiéta, to halt the progression of climate change, to preserve the heritage of the people for future generations, and to combat causes of flight.
The people living in rural Africa in particular depend on the land for their livelihood. Some 135 million people - as many as live in Germany and France put together - are at risk of becoming refugees as the fertile land turns to desert. About 60 million people will most probably have to leave the arid regions in sub-Saharan Africa and flee to North Africa and Europe.
It was this plight, which prompted the idea of the eco-center. It is about protecting biodiversity and preserving soil fertility in order to bring hope to prospective generations of a future in rural Benin and to set in motion a learning process for improved living conditions in harmony with nature. These are the aims of the new center, which has just opened in Tanguiéta in the north of Benin in West Africa. The Aid by Trade Foundation is supporting the project with surplus funds from a project grant donated by the Otto Group.
The project target in particular women and schoolchildren. They will be key to the success of the project in spreading the word and sharing their knowledge. The vision is that they will become ambassadors for environmental protection. It is therefore essential to work with the local schools and with women's groups. Schoolchildren and women will learn how to plant trees. At the same time, the women will be trained how to earn extra income for themselves and their families by growing vegetables and fruit trees and processing the crops. The background aims of both projects are to encourage the village folk to adopt a more sensitive approach to nature and to show the rural population how additional income can be generated while still protecting the environment.
About REDERC-ONG and OeBenin
The Réseau de développement des réserves naturelles Communautaires (REDERC) and the NGO OeBenin work in the north of Benin with schools and women's groups in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, helping to spread the cultivation and use of organic farming products (vegetables, soya) and the planting of local fruit trees, such as mango, tamarind, baobab and shea. In addition to improving biodiversity, the extra income earned by the women helps to improve school enrollment rates among the children.
For further information please visit www.facebook.com/OeBenin // www.pendjari.net
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) initiative that helps African smallholders help themselves through trade. Specifically, it works for protecting the environment and for improving the living and working conditions for a large number of cotton farmers and their relatives in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, an alliance of international textile companies built up by CmiA buys the sustainably grown cotton, integrates it into its textile value chains and pays a license fee to the foundation. The license fees paid by the demand partners are reinvested to benefit smallholder farmers and their families in the project countries directly. More than 670,000 smallholder farmers and their family members included more than 5.6 million people from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Malawi as well as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda are currently part of the CmiA program. A small red label on the product shows the consumer that with his purchase he has done something particularly good for the people in the producing countries and the environment.
Get a short overview about Cotton made in Africa here.
Cotton is the most widely used raw material for global textile production and the livelihood of millions of people in Africa. In East African Ethiopia, cotton is both farmed and manufactured into textiles for international trade. Rather than merely exporting this "white gold", the country invests in the development of the entire textile value chain. This development is pursued by the international textile industry with great interest and was also at the top of the agenda at this year’s Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the COMPACI Stakeholder Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The host country of this year's CmiA and COMPACI Stakeholder Conference was Ethiopia, which since this year numbers among the Cotton made in Africa cotton-farming countries and, according to McKinsey, is a textile production location with a high potential for growth. Tadesse Haile, State Minister for Industry in Ethiopia, opened the meeting. In his speech, he made reference to the impressive collaboration of Cotton made in Africa and COMPACI with thousands of smallholder cotton farmers throughout Africa who are creating an indispensable foundation for the development of the growing cotton industry. In his speech, Jaswinder Bedi, Managing Director of African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation (ACTIF), also emphasized the immense significance that the development of the textile value chains has in Africa, since it gives millions of people job opportunities and thus prevents social disasters that would force people to flee to Europe.
The efforts of CmiA and COMPACI to continuously improve environmental protection and promote small farming families who are at the bottom of the textile chain and for whom CmiA and COMPACI are campaigning in the context of growing textile production have been lively debated. In particular, activities to promote women and the use of bio-pesticides were discussed. Another topic was the development of the Farmer Business Schools that convey basic business concepts to the CmiA smallholder farmers and promote their economic autonomy.
The conference day was complemented by visiting AYKA ADDIS Textile & Investment Group PLC, a vertically integrated textile production plant, and Kanoria Africa Textiles PLC, a manufacturer of Jeans fabrics. Both companies are dedicated to protecting the environment and maintaining social standards. For both companies, the raw material Cotton made in Africa plays an important role. Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa, sums up: "We are pleased, with CmiA in Ethiopia, to supply the basis for a textile industry in which sustainability plays a crucial role from the fields all the way to the product. This can contribute to better value creation in Ethiopia and help millions of people gain employment and prosperity.”
Since 2013, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) cooperates with the African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation (ACTIF) to promote the sustainable cotton and textile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa. To strengthen their cooperation, AbTF and ACTIF now announce their strategic partnership for more value addition in the African cotton and textile industry. The two organisations have set themselves the goal to increase productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of cotton production and to strengthen the textile production in Africa together.
“The Aid by Trade Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative is the most important program for sustainable cotton production in Africa. With the sustainable and certified CmiA cotton we can lay a reliable foundation for our business which aims to build up an integrated textile value chain on the African continent suitable for the domestic as well as international textile market”, says Jaswinder Bedi, Chairman of ACTIF.
With their cooperation both partners go a step further in their aim to strengthen Africa’s role within the cotton and textile sector worldwide. As more and more retailers and suppliers are pursuing the development of the textile market in Sub-Saharan Africa or are already moving parts of their production to the African continent - like e.g. H&M, PVH, Tchibo or Bestseller - AbTF and ACTIF cooperate to respond to the increasing demand for sustainable cotton and textile products made in Africa.
“We are pleased about the cooperation with ACTIF, which fits well with the optimism in the African textile sector. Our partner is an expert and promoter of regionally and vertically integrated textile supply chains on the African continent. Together, we offer retailers and brands that are looking for sustainable and traceable textiles from Africa, a simple solution - from raw material to finished product“, concludes Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation.
The mission of ACTIF is to promote trade and increase market access for the cotton, textile, and apparel industry in Africa. This mission is informed by its vision, which is an integrated cotton textile and apparel industry that effectively competes on the world market.
On the occasion of Heimtextil fair in Frankfurt/Germany 1888 Mills, a leading US manufacturer of home and hospitality textiles and Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) announce their partnership. By cooperating with CmiA, 1888 Mills’ home and commercial textiles now also contribute to protecting the environment and to supporting the small-scale cotton farmers.
“CmiA, offers a great opportunity to align our business and sustainability initiatives. Our customers appreciate the outstanding craftsmanship and design of our products and with CmiA we can offer even more. A luxurious product made from high quality cotton that is produced in an ecologically and socially sustainable way. This partnership is directly in line with 1888 Mills' sustainability strategy. It is important for us and other global manufacturers for home and hospitality, gathered here in Frankfurt, to continue to support more sustainable ways of textile production,” says Jonathan Simon, CEO of 1888 Mills
Cotton made in Africa’s smallholder cotton farmers profit from fair working conditions, agricultural trainings as well as farmer business schools and are thus enabled to improve the livelihoods of their families by their own efforts. Currently, CmiA supports more than 700,000 smallholder cotton farmers in 10 African countries and works with 30 international brands and retailers.
About Cotton made in Africa
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) which helps people to help themselves through trade in order to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers and their families in sub-Saharan Africa. Smallholders from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are currently participating in CmiA. Training courses teach the cotton farmers modern, efficient and environmentally-friendly cultivation methods which help them to improve the quality of their cotton, generate higher yields and therefore earn a better income for them and their families. For more information on Cotton made in Africa please visit: http://www.cottonmadeinafrica.org/en.
About 1888 Mills
1888 Mills®, LLC is a global manufacturer of home and commercial textiles catering to the retail, hospitality and healthcare markets worldwide.
As a pioneer in global towel manufacturing, 1888 Mills operates facilities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and the United States. Today, 1888 Mills has emerged as a leader in home and commercial manufacturing for bath, bedding, kitchen, window and commercial apparel. 1888 Mills’ Brand Purpose “Weaving a Better World™” is designed to drive innovation within the global marketplace by carrying out initiatives that promote environmental stewardship and contribute to the reduction of poverty. This is our commitment to our stakeholders as well as the economic regions where we operate.
The fact that Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is committed to social welfare by securing ILO core labor standards, the payment of the minimum wage in the cotton ginning factories, and in fair contracts pays off. The latest CmiA verification report for 2014 shows that the partners in Africa clearly benefit from the initiative. The report is now published and gives an overview of the independent verification controls carried out by AfriCert, EcoCert and Control Union.
"Cotton made in Africa successfully campaigns for international rights to be applied to the people who produce the raw materials for our clothing, namely the cotton farmers and workers in the cotton industry in Africa. Our standard works to the advantage of hundreds of thousands of smallholder families in the cotton growing regions and the environment," said Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation.
In addition to ecological concerns, such as the general ban of genetically modified seed, to cut down primary forests or the encroachment on conservation areas, CmiA works to promote fundamental social aid. CmiA cotton is grown and processed in the manufacturing companies in Africa – the ginning factories – in conformity with the requirements of the international core labor standards (ILO). The workers in the ginning factories profit from e.g. the right to bargain and their freedom of assembly. The smallholders who have joined the Cotton made in Africa initiative are paid in due time for their crops, as stipulated in the requirements of the CmiA standard. Cotton made in Africa farmers decide at the beginning of every season whether they will grow cotton again and, before they do so, they are informed by the local cotton companies of the anticipated costs and prices. This transparency establishes trust on both sides. The smallholders, particularly those in rural Africa, have precious few reserves. In order to be able to make the necessary investment at the beginning of any given season, the smallholders benefit from pre-financing. Therefore they do not need to take out loans which can push them over the edge financially. The statutory minimum wage is paid at all the ginning factories where the cotton is further treated – and at 16 out of 18 of the cotton companies which process CmiA cotton, the workers are paid above the statutory minimum.
Cotton made in Africa insists on systematic training so as to ensure that many smallholders have the chance to learn efficient and sustainable cotton growing methods. The latest results show that the approach is working: Just 15% of the smallholders in some regions were storing the crop protection containers correctly in 2013 but that figure has now risen to over 50%.
By the end of 2014, over 440,000 smallholders had benefited from the sustainability standards applicable to CmiA and – since the end of last year – to CmiA Organic. They produced over 360,000 tons of raw cotton with the Cotton made in Africa seal of quality. Three more cotton companies have been partners of the CmiA initiative since the start of 2015, extending the reach of Cotton made in Africa to over 650,000 smallholders in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Get to know more in the Aggregated CmiA Verification Report.