Sub Saharan Cotton Initiative Annual meeting
An article by Leonard Schäfer
The last week of September this year in Bremen was all about cotton. The Bremen Cotton Week is a major event where international industry experts come together to discuss supply chain transparency, sustainability and new forms of cooperation between the private sector and partner countries in the cotton sector. INA was also there with its partners.
The Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) Stakeholder Conference kicked off the theme week. The two-day conference presented innovative and sustainable solutions to challenges along the supply chain. The International Cotton Conference, which took place on 29 and 30 September at the Bremen Chamber of Commerce, also focused on global supply chains. INA representatives from the global project Sustainability and Value Added in Agricultural Supply Chains took part in the events and gave presentations.
The Cotton Conference's motto, "Cotton Decoded", highlights the enormous complexity of the global sector and the multitude of its players. The topics of supply chain transparency and traceability are at the top of the agenda for the globally active companies in the sector - also because of the growing requirements and due diligence obligations..
"Business as usual is not an option"; "We need a transformation driven by innovation. It is about nothing less than the fundamental transformation of our economy"; "It is important that the millions of small farmers and their families benefit from this change".
- Dirk Meyer / Head of Division Global Health, Economy, Trade and Rural Development at BMZ
The annual meeting of the Sub Saharan Cotton Initiative
The Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative (SSCI) is an example of a new format that opens the way for international cooperation. Embedded in the Bremer Cotton Week, the SSCI held its first annual meeting of the participating stakeholders. The SSCI emerged from an ideas competition of the GIZ Global Project "Sustainability and Value Added in Agricultural Supply Chains" and aims to mobilise the business community for transformation projects and to make cotton supply chains more sustainable.
The SSCI is currently implementing four projects in a total of seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa - in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Togo and Chad. These strengthen, for example, the organic cotton sector, promote sustainable production with the use of fewer inputs and less environmental impact, improve crop traceability via digital platforms and help smallholder farmers become more resilient to climate change. In this way, around 240,000 people in the producing countries are reached.
"Collaboration across the supply chain is critical if we are to achieve systemic change towards sustainable cotton production. That's why we are working with the international private sector and local organisations in the Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative."
- Saskia Widenhorn / Head of the Cameroon Cotton Component and the Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative of the GIZ Global Project "Sustainability and Value Added in Agricultural Supply Chains"
The participants of the first annual meeting were cotton companies and traders such as Paul Reinhart AG, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) or Olam International, organisations such as Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), Solidaridad Network West Africa and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) from the UK as well as cotton stakeholders from Sub-Saharan Africa such as Alliance Ginneries Ltd from Zambia and Sociedade Algodoeira de Niassa JFS SA from Mozambique. Also present was Annika Wandscher, an advisor from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation.
The annual meeting was the first physical encounter between the partners. In a very committed and open exchange, the projects were presented, highlights and challenges were presented and common fields of interest were discussed. It became clear that the Sub Saharan Cotton Initiative is a profitable platform - which will continue to work for the sustainable cultivation of organic cotton in the future.