- Simone Preuss |
This year's 9th Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and Competitive African Cotton Initiative COMPACI Stakeholder Conference, which took place on 20th October in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, put the development of the entire textile value chain on top of its agenda.
Case in point was Ethiopia itself, which joined the initiative only this year. Here, cotton is both farmed and manufactured into textiles for the international trade. But rather than merely exporting this "white gold", the country also invests in the development of the entire textile value chain. With 94,1 million people, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria. Currently, there are about 9,000 CmiA farmers. According to consultiing firm McKinsey, Ethiopia is a textile production location with a "high potential for growth".
"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," said Tina Stridde, managing director of Cotton made in Africa.
Chinese, Turkish, US, Indian and European garment manufacturers are already attracted by Ethiopia, which is also dubbed "Africa's Bangladesh" by some, with its large domestic market, increasing number of skilled workers and large workforce, and have either made commitments or are currently scouting for them.
Jaswinder Bedi, managing director of the African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation (ACTIF) also emphasized the immense significance that the development of the textile value chains has in Africa, as it gives millions of people job opportunities and thus prevents social disasters that would force people to flee, for example to countries in Europe.
As the most widely used raw material for the global textile production, cotton provides a livelihood for millions of people in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the fifth largest cotton exporter worldwide (after USA, India, Australia and Brazil) and cotton is grown by about 3.4 million smallholder farmers, employing more than 20 million people directly or indirectly. Of those, 700,000 smallholder farmers in 10 countries are currently participating in the CmiA initiative. Cotton thus plays a key role in fighting poverty and assuring food security.
On the conference's agenda were also activities to promote women and the use of bio-pesticides as part of CmiA's and COMPACI's efforts to continuously improve environmental protection and promote small farming families who are at the bottom of the textile chain. Another topic important topic was the development of Farmer Business Schools that convey basic business concepts to the CmiA smallholder farmers and promote their economic autonomy.
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an initiative by the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) whose goal is to "help people help themselves through trade in order to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers and their families in Sub-Saharan Africa".