The four chapters of the CmiA Standard:

The Management Pillar

CmiA Managing Entities commit to responsible business conduct.

The fundamental premise of Cotton made in Africa is that Managing Entities and farmers respect laws – such as those on human rights, environmental protection, labour relations, and financial accountability – and practise responsible business conduct. The first obligation of Managing Entities is to comply with national legislation. However, if that legislation sets standards which are below the referenced internationally recognised standards and conventions, the international standards prevail; by contrast, if national legislation sets higher requirements than do international standards, the national legislation shall apply. The aim should always be to provide the highest possible protection to farmers, workers, and the environment.

CmiA Managing Entities are committed to CmiA values and continuously improve their CmiA performance.

CmiA considers the Managing Entity to be the principal actor and agent of change for implementing the CmiA standard. CmiA core values are to help farmers help themselves through trade while promoting sustainable development, protecting the environment, and preserving future generations’ livelihoods. Cotton made in Africa expects Managing Entities to share these values and to transparently communicate about these values as well as their partnership with CmiA. Because cotton cultivation and ginning, as the first processing step, present a multitude of challenges, CmiA follows a continuous-improvement approach from the very beginning.

CmiA Managing Entities operate effective management systems.

Good management is essential for the implementation and monitoring of CmiA criteria and indicators. It is also an important tool for facilitating planning and decision-making processes. The Managing Entity bears the responsibility for compliance with the requirements of CmiA criteria and indicators and for translating the requirements into practice. Guidance from the CmiA standard as well as other documents provided by AbTF – such as picture blocks, posters, videos, and the like – can be used a best practice.

The People Pillar

CmiA Managing Entities support small-scale farmers.

In many African countries, economic growth depends on an efficient agricultural sector. In total, more than 20 million people in Sub-Saharan African countries directly or indirectly live from cotton. However, poor access to services, unfavourable policy frameworks, and a lack of knowledge regarding sustainable cotton production serve to weaken the contribution of the cotton sector to economic development and poverty reduction in the region. CmiA Managing Entities work with small-scale farmers on a contract basis, either through individual contracts or contracts with farmers’ groups, thereby providing cash income and even supporting communities in their development.

CmiA Managing Entities promote decent working conditions throughout all field and ginning operations.

CmiA follows the concept of decent work (developed by the International Labour Organisation), which involves amongst other opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income; security in the workplace; social protection for families; and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men. CmiA intends to ensure that relations between CmiA Managing Entities and contracted farmers as well as any employed staff are based on fair principles and are in compliance with these core labour standards, other international conventions, and national labour legislation. The first stage of cotton transformation, which is the ginning of cotton, is usually performed by the Managing Entity. In rural areas, which often lack employment and formal income opportunities, cotton ginneries are – at least on seasonal basis – one of the most important employers, offering additional income generating possibilities to the population outside the crop production cycle.

CmiA Managing Entities respect the rights of children and promote gender equality.

Child labour has no place in sustainable cotton cultivation and violates international human rights. Child labour reinforces poverty across generations and is intrinsically related to gender inequality. CmiA aims to protect children and young workers from work that is harmful and interferes with their schooling. CmiA works with Managing Entities, associated farmers, and other stakeholders to support and respect this human right. Ensuring that women have access to and control over resources directly contributes to reducing poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition within these communities. Therefore, CmiA strives to empower women in cotton cultivation and ginning and to ensure that a gender perspective is well integrated with the operational strategy of every Managing Entity.

The Planet Pillar

CmiA Managing Entities use land responsibly, enhance biodiversity, and protect the climate and the environment.

Since the foundation of the initiative, environmental protection has been a core element of CmiA’s mission. For this reason, CmiA requires respect for any areas and natural reserves that are under special protection. CmiA aims to ensure that biodiversity and natural habitats are maintained and enhanced. This can be achieved by increasing yields, which helps reduce pressure to open up new land, and through the promotion of practices like IPPM, crop rotation and conservation agriculture. Conserving and sustainably managing biodiversity are also critical to addressing climate change. CmiA strives to enhance the resilience of farmers by adapting to climate change while also increasing efforts to mitigate it by reducing the emissions created through cotton cultivation and ginning.

CmiA Managing Entities provide GMO-free cotton seeds and care for water and soil.

In line with the precautionary principle, CmiA requires Managing Entities to provide GMO-free cotton seeds to farmers. Soil and water are essential natural resources for agricultural production. From a sustainability perspective, the responsible use of these resources is crucial. The depletion of clean water reserves and fertile soil has become a risk factor for agriculture worldwide. CmiA cotton production prohibits the withdrawal of ground or surface water for the irrigation of cotton. Agricultural strategies for sustainable cotton production need to focus on the protection, conservation, improvement and restoration of soil fertility. Through the application of sustainable soil and water conservation practices and through the provision of organic fertiliser, cotton cultivation can significantly contribute to soil fertility.

CmiA Managing Entities minimise the adverse effects of crop-protection practices.

CmiA strives to keep the use of pesticides as a last resort and to minimise risks to human health and the environment. CmiA defines a complete set of strategies to continuously reduce the use of highly hazardous pesticides and to fully integrate production and pest management. Wherever pesticides are applied, CmiA intends to ensure that farmers, their families, and communities are protected from pesticide exposure during storage, handling, application, and disposal. It is equally important to protect the environment, especially avoiding adverse effects for bodies of water.

The Prosperity Pillar

CmiA Managing Entities provide CmiA-contracted farmers with access to high-quality inputs and input pre-financing.

In cotton growing areas, Managing Entities are frequently the farmers’ only source of affordable agricultural inputs. By providing inputs on a credit basis, Managing Entities enable a large number of farmers to grow their crops and earn essential cash income. For many small-scale farmers, cotton plays an important role as a cash crop within their diversified farming system, which combines food and cash crops. Core aspects for establishing and maintaining trust between farmers and Managing Entities are clear contractual provisions, access to pre-financed inputs, transparent communication on prices of inputs and seed cotton, the transparent grading of seed cotton and timely payment.

CmiA Managing Entities assist CmiA-contracted farmers in sustainably increasing cotton productivity and fibre quality.

CmiA aims to support African cotton farmers to increase productivity and fibre quality – two parameters that can greatly affect a cotton-growing household’s income. The quality of the fibre produced is essential for its value. The inherent characteristics of the seed variety, the level of trash, and the level of contamination are three important factors for fibre quality. It is important to select seed varieties that suit the local geographic and seasonal conditions. Seeds delivered to farmers have to be of high quality, i.e. having high germination rates, varietal purity and vigour. Farmers then need to apply crop management practices that affect both yields and fibre quality. Finally harvesting and post-harvest handling influence the quality of seed cotton delivered to the ginnery.

CmiA Managing Entities enable CmiA-contracted farmers to improve their living conditions and resilience.

To make cotton and other crops successful in the long term, cotton producers need to see farming as a business and, in consequence, think and act entrepreneurially. CmiA operates in a context where people often lack formal education and where improvements to farmers’ skills and farm management practices are essential for bettering their living conditions. Managing Entities implement training and education programmes for all farmer to support compliance with and development in accordance with the CmiA standard.

To keep agriculture attractive to young people, investments are needed to improve the living conditions of rural communities. Managing Entities often engage in community investment efforts as a way to promote local development and benefit stakeholders in their areas of operations. They are committed to supporting smallholder communities in areas such as education, health, gender equality, and environmental protection.

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