Cotton made in Africa’s 2014 verification report shows that its partners in Africa are benefiting from the initiative’s commitment to social welfare, payment of a minimum wage in cotton ginning factories and fair contracts.
Cotton made in Africa insists on systematic training to ensure that many small stakeholders have the chance to learn efficient and sustainable cotton growing methods. The latest results show that the approach is working. Just 15 percent of the small farmers in some regions were storing the crop protection containers correctly in 2013, but that figure has risen to more than 50 percent.
By the end of 2014, more than 440,000 small holders had benefited from the sustainability standards applicable to CmiA, and since the end of last year, to CmiA Organic. They produced more than 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 beginning of 2015, extending the reach of Cotton made in Africa to more than 650,000 smallholders in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report 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,” said Tina Stridde, managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, which runs the CmiA program. “Our standard works to the advantage of hundreds of thousands of smallholder families in the cotton growing regions and the environment.”
In addition to ecological concerns, such as the general ban of genetically modified seed, protection of primary forests and the encroachment on conservation areas, CmiA works to promote fundamental social aid. CmiA cotton is grown and processed in the ginning factories in Africa in conformity with the requirements of the International Labor Organization. The workers in the ginning factories profit from 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 small farmers, particularly those in rural Africa, have 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.
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 that process CmiA cotton, the workers are paid above the statutory minimum.