The Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative –
Partnering for Sustainable Supply Chains

 

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) startet  four pilot projects as part of its Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative in the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022. The initiative aims to make cotton and textile supply chains in sub-Saharan Africa more sustainable by mobilising the commitment of the private sector and promoting innovative ideas. During the next three years, consortia of international and/or local companies, with the participation of civil society organisations, will implement four projects in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Benin, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia. Own contributions of the consortia total almost EUR 5 million.

The consortia and respective implementation countries

The initiative is part of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (BMZ) special initiative "One World - No Hunger" (SEWOH). The winning projects receive support from the Global Project "Sustainability and Value Added in Agricultural Supply Chains" (GP AgriChains) of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH during the project term. The implementation of the project is carried out by the consortia themselves.

 

Get to know the four winning consortia and their innovative projects:

 

 

Growing Benin’s Organic Cotton Sector

„Growing Benin’s Organic Cotton Sector” is the project jointly implemented by PAN UK, AbTF, Paul Reinhart AG, and OBEPAB.

More information about Growing Benin’s Organic Cotton Sector

 

Since 1982 Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK has been the only UK non-profit organisation exclusively dedicated to tackling harms caused by chemical pesticides and supporting the identification and adoption of agroecological alternatives.

 

Paul Reinhart AG: Founded in 1788, the Swiss family business is the oldest and one of the world's leading cotton merchants. It has extensive experience in West Africa, including in Benin, and particular expertise in organic cotton and of buying cotton in countries with smallholder structures.

 

Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF): The foundation was established in 2005 by Prof. Dr. Michael Otto with the aim of helping small farmers in Africa to help themselves through trade and to improve their living and working conditions, as well as to promote the protection of our environment. With one of the world's leading standards for sustainable cotton, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), the foundation implements its goals. The income from licences for CmiA-certified cotton is reinvested in the cotton-growing regions of sub-Saharan Africa, following the mechanisms of a social business.

 

Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB): OBEPAB is a Beninese NGO founded in 1997 that provides training and technical support to cotton farmers on organic production methods, certification, and marketing. It promotes resilient and diverse smallholder farming systems and community initiatives that benefit women and men in the cotton growing areas of rural Benin.

 

Since November 2021, this project supports smallholder cotton farmers in Benin to convert to organic farming, which promises economic, social and environmental benefits. Overall, it aims to double the production of high-quality organic cotton in Benin, directly benefiting over 9000 smallholder farmers, at least 30% of whom will be women increasing their net income by 60%.

 

Planned measures include capacity building of the target group for sustainable farming methods. Seed trials and seed multiplication will ensure that high quality, locally adapted, organic cotton seed is available to all participating growers. 

 

Indirectly, about 45,500 adults and children in farming households will benefit from the project through increased household income and reduced exposure to pesticides.

 

The project also contributes to strengthening the linkage of actors along the supply chain and thus to more transparency and continued high demand for Benin’s organic cotton. In this way, continuous investments will be sought to ensure the future of smallholder organic cotton production in Benin.

 

Farm workers harvesting organic cotton in Benin (© OBEPAB)

 

 

Supporting the sustainable cotton production in Côte d’Ivoire, Chad and Togo (SSCP)

The implementation of the project "Supporting the sustainable cotton production (SSCP)" is in the hands of Solidaridad Network West Africa, Olam International, SECO, NSCT, and Cotontchad SN.

More information about SSCP

 

Olam International: Founded in 1989, the food and agriculture company is the second largest global cotton trader in the world, with a value chain spanning more than 60 countries and direct as well as indirect links to approximately five million people in production, processing, distribution, and trading.

 

Solidaridad Network West Africa: Solidaridad is an international civil organisation with more than 50 years of global experience in promoting the development of socially responsible, environmentally sound, and economically viable commodity supply chains. Since 2012, Solidaridad Network West Africa has been active as an affiliate along the cotton supply chain, among others.

 

Société d’Exploitation Cotonnière Olam (SECO): Founded in 2008, Olam's subsidiary in Côte d'Ivoire focuses on cotton farming and is a partner to over half of all cotton farmers in the country.

 

Nouvelle Société Cotonnière du Togo (NSCT): Founded in 2009 and absorbed by Olam in 2020, the cotton company is committed to the development of cotton cultivation in Togo.

 

Cotontchad SN: Founded in 1971, the cotton company is jointly owned by Olam and the government of Chad and supports cooperatives in cotton production by providing high-quality seeds and other inputs, among other things.

 

Since November 2021, the consortium supports approximately 32,500 cotton farmers in sustainable cotton production. The aim is to increase the farmers’ resilience against climate change through a lower use of inputs and a reduction in negative environmental impacts. In addition, an increased cotton production will help improve farmers' livelihoods, considering the growing worldwide demand for sustainably produced cotton.

 

Through the establishment of a Cotton Farmers Academy, on the one hand, the capacities of the farmers are trained in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), in financial business management topics and on cotton certification standards. On the other hand, several cooperatives will be established and strengthened in an academy for cotton cooperatives as a first step.

 

In addition, Rural Services Centres (RSCs) are being established, which serve as incubators for entrepreneurial ideas and are tailored to local market conditions. Like this, agronomy challenges can be tackled and aligned with climate, socially and environmentally friendly operations on the farms. The RSC model will play an important role in developing viable services for farmers and reducing youth unemployment.

Cotton farmer (© Solidaridad Network West Africa)

 

 

Cotton4Impact

The project "Cotton4Impact " is carried out jointly by Paul Reinhart AG, Alliance Ginneries Ltd, and Ivoire Coton.

More information about Cotton4Impact

 

Paul Reinhart AG: Founded in 1788, the Swiss family business is the oldest and one of the world's leading cotton merchants. It has extensive experience in West Africa and particular expertise in organic cotton and of buying cotton in countries with smallholder structures.

 

Alliance Ginneries Ltd: Founded in 1997, the cotton ginning company operates in Tanzania and Zambia and sources all its raw materials directly from over 50,000 smallholder farmers in the region.

 

Ivoire Coton: Founded in 1998, the company is one of the main actors in the cotton market in Côte d'Ivoire. It has a network of 45,000 producers grouped into 1,200 professional agricultural organisations across over 870 villages. It aims to promote cotton cultivation through sustainable management of soils.

 

The consortium sees the promotion of more sustainable agricultural practices as the most important measure to improve the competitiveness and the basic income of sub-Saharan smallholder farmers.

 

The concrete aim of the project is to establish bidirectional communication between smallholder cotton farmers and the ginnery through a digital exchange and learning platform. This will facilitate for instance the coordination on inputs and help increase production yields in the long term.

 

In addition, a farm app will improve the traceability of the agricultural supply chain (from production to cooperative, ginnery and the trader). This will help actors in the downstream supply chain analyse their impact on the upstream supply chain and the people involved in it as well as facilitate reporting on their due diligence.

 

In the realm of the development of the tool, farmers will be equally trained in sustainable practices and profit from digital literacy in the field. Directly, up to 100,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the project.

Farmers collecting seed cotton in Côte d’Ivoire (© Oikocredit, Ivoire Coton)

 

 

Climate Adaptation and Resilience - A pan- African learning & knowledge exchange project on improved Soil Management (CAR-iSMa)

"Climate Adaptation and Resilience - A pan-African learning & knowledge exchange project on improved Soil Management (CAR-iSMa)" is the joint project of the AbTF, LDC Suisse SA, CIDT, JFS, and LDC Zambia.

More Information about CAR-iSMa

 

Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF): The foundation was established in 2005 by Prof. Dr. Michael Otto with the aim of helping small farmers in Africa to help themselves through trade and to improve their living and working conditions, as well as to promote the protection of our environment. With one of the world's leading standards for sustainable cotton, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), the foundation implements its goals. The income from licences for CmiA-certified cotton is reinvested in the cotton-growing regions of sub-Saharan Africa, following the mechanisms of a social business.

 

Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) Suisse SA: Founded in 1851, the company is one of the world's five leading processors and traders of agricultural products, such as coffee, sugar, grain, oilseeds, rice, and cotton. The aim of LDC Suisse is to create fair and sustainable values that are reflected in partnership-based cooperation with producers. In the case of cotton, this approach is implemented, among other things, through the long-standing cooperation with CmiA.

 

Compagnie Ivoirienne pour le Développement des Textiles (CIDT): The Ivorian cotton company with headquarters in Bouaké was founded in 1974 and is the oldest cotton company in the country. CIDT works to improve the living conditions of smallholder farmers. In addition to marketing cotton, the company is also involved in projects to provide health care and improve educational opportunities in rural regions.

 

Sociedade Algodoeira do Niassa JFS: The oldest cotton company in Mozambique was founded in 1939. The company has a great amount of experience in the industry and in the field of sustainability. Through partnerships, JFS is committed to improving access to financial services and marketing opportunities beyond cotton, as well as electricity supply in rural areas.

 

Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) Zambia: The company has extensive experience in the cotton sector in Zambia and has been a leading agricultural enterprise of the Louis Dreyfus Company since 2012. LDC Zambia supports smallholder farmers by pre-financing inputs for cotton and other commodities such as maize, soybean or groundnuts to promote income diversification and build resilience to market changes.

 

The overall objective of the consortium project is to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through sustainable production methods for soil management, to strengthen their resilience and at the same time to contribute to climate change mitigation. The focus is on smallholder farmers, who are supported by local cotton companies in improving their production methods within the framework of CmiA certification. To this end, measures such as training of trainers for soil management or the creation of training materials for agricultural advisors are planned.

 

Around 100,000 people involved in cotton production, including 20 % women and 15 % young adults, will benefit from these measures. In addition, an area of 92,000 ha, which is roughly the size of the federal state of Berlin, is to be upgraded through measures to improve soil fertility.

 

Another focus of the project is the cross-company and cross-country exchange of knowledge between the cotton companies. These learning experiences will be taken up by the broad CmiA partner network and will flow into the further development of production methods across the continent after the project is completed.

Cotton female farmers during a training session in Côte d’Ivoire (© AbTF)

 

On the context of the Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative: supply chains and the cotton sector

Supply chains are global - a T-shirt travels around the world from the cultivation of the cotton to the final product until it reaches the consumer. This creates an environmental and social footprint in production, manufacturing, and transport.

To achieve sustainable agricultural supply chains, interventions by governmental and non-governmental international cooperation in the countries of production alone are not sufficient. The private sector in particular contributes to the professionalisation of agricultural processes with its resources, market power and innovative strength.

Greater transparency along supply chains, improved environmental standards and a fairer distribution of value creation can only be achieved if global companies, global intermediaries, raw material suppliers, international standard organisations and local partners collaborate. Global challenges require new forms of cooperation with the private sector.

Smallholders receive their payment for the delivered seed cotton directly on site through the cooperative (© Philippe Saner, Tanzania 2021)
Seed cotton is weighed, here in Tanzania, before being transported to the ginning plant (© Philippe Saner, Tanzania 2021)
Guillaume Akdo, an OBEPAB-trained organic cotton farmer, with his cotton harvest (© PAN-UK)
OBEPAB-trained organic cotton farmers with their cotton harvest (© PAN-UK)
Cotton field
Cotton farmers at harvest (© Oikocredit, Ivoire Coton, Côte d'Ivoire, 2021)
Cotton farmers at harvest (© Oikocredit, Ivoire Coton, Côte d'Ivoire, 2021)

The cotton sector, from field to ginning, contributes to the livelihoods of more than 40 million people in Africa. Productivity in sub-Saharan Africa remains low, reaching only 50 % of the global average yield. More than 90 % of African cotton is exported as raw material. The processing of cotton into textiles, and thus most of the value added, happens elsewhere. There is great potential to sustainably promote productivity and strengthen local value creation with the aim of increasing incomes and creating jobs.

Driven by consumption-conscious consumers, there is a growing demand for sustainably and, above all, ecologically produced cotton. Global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have once again proven the need for resilient supply chains.

 

The Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative – a call for proposals for more sustainable cotton supply chains

 

Improper use of pesticides harms people and the environment, incomes for farmers are often insufficient to secure their livelihoods, and only a small part of the further processing and value creation takes place locally. To tackle these challenges, the Global Project "Sustainability and Value Added in Agricultural Supply Chains" (GP AgriChains) of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has asked the actors in the cotton supply chain how cotton and textile supply chains in sub-Saharan Africa can be made more socially and ecologically sustainable as well as economically viable. In March 2021, a Call for Proposals, the Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative, was launched for this purpose. It aims to raise the commitment of the business community, strengthen the responsibility of global actors, and promote innovative projects that are in demand within the supply chain.

Consortia - consisting of at least one global company and one local partner - were encouraged to submit project proposals on the topics of sustainable production methods, improved seeds, climate protection and adaptation to climate change, local processing, digital traceability and purchasing of sustainable African cotton. A selection committee composed of experts from academia, politics and international cooperation selected four winning consortia from a total of 19 submitted applications. Among them are well-known international companies and organisations.

Klick here for the Call for Proposals (application period already expired)

Thematic fields for the project proposals

Contact

For more information, please contact us:

E-Mail: Cotton-initiative(at)giz.de     

For more information about our Global Project “Sustainability and Value Added in Agricultural Supply Chains” see our description.

 

Footnote

Some of the pictures shown are images of the organisations taken in previous projects and are for illustrative purposes only.