Approximately 5,400 smallholder farmers from Uganda are now benefiting from the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. This is the result of the successful verification of the Western Uganda Cotton Company (WUCC) and the cooperating cotton farmers. As the largest cotton initiative in Africa, CmiA is now also engaged in improving the living conditions of Uganda's smallholder farmers and their families through sustainable cotton farming.
"We are delighted to be able to cooperate with smallholder farmers from Uganda and to assist them with training as well as the creation of a demand alliance for their cotton with the CmiA seal. This benefits local people and is a considerable success for our foundation with Uganda becoming the ninth country from Sub-Saharan Africa where we are actively supporting sustainable cotton farming and the rights of local farmers," explains Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Foundation. As partners of CmiA, local farmers receive regular training on agricultural and business topics. They also benefit from reliable contracts and prompt payment for their harvest. With its market-oriented approach, the foundation also aims to improve the competitiveness of cotton from Uganda.
Nearly 80 per cent of Uganda's population works in agriculture. This makes cotton one of the main sources of income in the country's rural regions. By establishing a sustainable basis for the cultivation of the 'white gold' for both people and the environment, Cotton made in Africa is making a significant contribution towards the fight against poverty and offering a reliable livelihood to Uganda's smallholder farmers. AbTF will also be taking a further decisive step in Uganda shortly: Through its cooperation with the recently founded company Fine Spinners, Uganda's first fully integrated textile company, CmiA cotton is expected to form the basis for fully integrated textile production from the cotton field to the final product - cotton and textiles made in Africa.
Sustainable Cotton Initiative Reaches 440,000 African Smallholder Farmers in 2013 and Records License Revenues of More Than One Million Euros
The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) publishes its first Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) Annual Report wherein the foundation reports about its work in the African project areas and on the global sales markets in 2013.
The Aid by Trade Foundation can look back on a successful year 2013. 80 percent of its total income originate from activating market forces. This is due in particular to the positive revenue development in marketing for the CmiA license to textile companies and fashion brands. License revenues exceeded a total of one million euros for the first time in 2013. "This positive result shows that we are successfully putting the credo of Cotton made in Africa, aid through trade and not through donations, into action," says Tina Stridde, spokeswoman for the Aid by Trade Foundation. "An increasing number of companies are making a conscious decision to use Cotton made in Africa cotton and feature their products with the CmiA quality label. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved: for farmers in Africa as well as for the consumers here."
With the revenues, the foundation makes significant contributions to financing training and cooperation projects. A total of 440,000 smallholder farmers have been verified according to the foundation's criteria standards in 2013, with 95% of farmers additionally benefiting from pre-financing for their expenditures on seed or fertilizers. The cooperation projects involve building schools in the African project areas, ensuring clean drinking water supply, or supporting women's cooperatives. The total volume of the cooperation projects amounted to EUR 684,000 in the reporting year.
The annual report is available in German and English and can be downloaded here.
Demand for CmiA Cotton Grows Further
The well-known women's trousers specialist TONI based in Forchheim, Germany cooperates with Cotton made in Africa (CmiA). With a ten-part knitwear collection available from spring 2015, TONI supports the initiative and is thereby dedicated to improving the living conditions for African smallholders and sustainable cotton cultivation. The products can be purchased at upscale retailers.
Besides TONI more than 20 other textile companies and brands work with the Cotton made in Africa initiative and thus make an important contribution to the future of Africa.
Life Cycle Assessment confirms: "CmiA cotton reduces the negative impact on climate change!"
For Ulrike Bos from Fraunhofer Institute and Dr. Susanne Neubert from the Centre for Rural Development (SLE) at the Humboldt University of Berlin/Germany, one thing is certain: "The cultivation of CmiA cotton has less impact on the environment compared to conventional and irrigated cotton. The low amount of efficiently used resources and production facilities makes it possible to minimize greenhouse gas emissions that result from cotton production. Thanks to rain fed agriculture, a tremendous amount of water can also be saved." Their review confirms the results of Cotton made in Africa's (CmiA) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), conducted by PE INTERNATIONAL according to the ISO 14040 standard.
CmiA cotton has shown to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. CmiA cotton emits up to 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per kilo of cotton fiber than conventional cotton. According to the study results, CmiA emits only a 1.04 kg CO2 equivalent level in comparison to 1.8 kg CO2/kg for conventional cotton. As CmiA cotton is exclusively cultivated with rainwater, CmiA saves more than 2,100 liters of water per kilogram of cotton fiber compared to the global average.
"The second life cycle assessment of Cotton made in Africa is our response to the growing interest among consumers and businesses in the environmental impacts of the production of goods such as textiles," explains Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. The foundation commissioned the world-renowned sustainability and software company PE INTERNATIONAL to review all the relevant production steps involved in CmiA cotton, from cultivation to ginning in the factory, in accordance with standardized methods of life cycle assessments. "With the publication of this study, we are pleased to be able to once again confirm the positive environmental impact of Cotton made in Africa. This enables us to provide manufacturers and consumers with useful facts with which the environmental impacts of Cotton made in Africa with cotton from other sources and other materials can be compared," Stridde adds.
The result of the Life Cycle Assessment substantiates the ecological added value of CmiA cotton and confirms the positive LCA from the study on the ecological footprint conducted by Systain Consulting in 2013. For this second study, PE INTERNATIONAL used two climatically representative growing regions: Côte d'Ivoire in western Africa and Zambia in southern Africa. Due to the different scope and objectives of the two studies, the absolute figures of the results differ slightly from each other. To ensure the highest standards in terms of quality and credibility, liability and ISO standard, both Ulrike Bos from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Southern Germany, who is an expert in LCA of renewable raw materials and Dr. Susanne Neubert from the Centre of Rural Development (SLE) at the Humboldt University of Berlin/Germany, who is an expert in the fields of agricultural sciences and cotton production in the socio-economic and environmental context of Africa, reviewed the LCA prepared by PE INTERNATIONAL as independent third parties. The plan for the future is to extend the studies to other regions and harvest cycles.
If you wish to download the study, follow the link CmiA Life Cycle Assessment 2014.
Methodology: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides an effective aid when comparing different systems because it systematically analyzes the environmental impacts of products, processes, or services along the entire life cycle of a product. This includes all environmental impacts resulting from the production as well as those preceding and subsequent processes involved, such as manufacturing the raw materials and supplies. Life cycle assessments are used as a standardized tool to quantitatively investigate potential environmental impacts at the product level. Their methodology is also based on analyzing the efficiency of resource use. ISO 14040 defines the steps and documentation needed to perform an ISO-compliant life cycle assessment.
 Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in CO2 equivalents. In addition to CO2, the emissions also include N2O and CH4, among others.
African Fashion Designers for Tomorrow
In close collaboration, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) and the African Fashion trend agency FA254 have set up an African design contest to rebrand the African Fashion and Textile scene. Young African Fashion designers are invited to submit their portfolios to FA254. After being chosen by an international jury chaired by Vogue Germany chief editor Christiane Arp the winner will have the possibility to present the collection during the Berlin Fashion Week 2015 and to produce their product with internationally renowned fashion companies.
From now until August 20, young African designers based are encouraged to submit a portfolio of their work to FA254′s official website to have the chance to take their work to the next level. Ten nominees will be chosen from the submitted portfolios under various categories namely Apparel, Accessories and Home Decoration. After a three months training program (October -- December 2014) the nominees will be required to offer improved designs. An international jury chaired by Vogue Germany chief editor Christiane Arp will then select the best design in each category in January 2015. The category nominees will have the opportunity to produce their product with internationally renowned fashion companies. Additionally, the overall winner will have the chance to present the collection during the Berlin Fashion Week 2015.
"We are very excited and looking forward to support and accompany the contest as it will put a spotlight on African Fashion as well as African Textile Production," comments Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa in Hamburg. "For the first time, it establishes a direct link between our CmiA cotton farmers who produce the sustainable raw material for the designs, African designers and the international Fashion scene." James Shikwati, Managing Director of IREN and associated partner of CmiA in Kenya adds: "At IREN-CmiA, we are happy to collaborate with FA254 to support the enormous fashion design talents in Africa. On top of that, we thereby aim to strengthen the Eastern Africa's domestic textile market."
FA254 was founded in 2013 by Waridi Schrobsdorff, a former Kenyan top model. With FA254 she aims to discover and promote new talents in order to rebrand Africa through young and creative minds. Schrobsdorff has been in the fashion business in the European market for years. "Our goal is to change people's minds. We have many talented young people who deserve the recognition. I'm very excited to call upon young Africans to share their talent with the world," concludes Waridi Schrobsdorff.
6-12-2014 World Day against Child Labour
Children of CmiA smallholder cotton farmers learn how to read and write
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 170 million children worldwide between the ages of 5 and 17 have to work. Standing up for the rights of children is a key issue for the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. In collaboration with the renowned American children's book author, Donald Grant, the initiative has created illustrations with child labour as the theme to inform people in the cotton regions about this important issue and to raise awareness for it.
"For many children in the world instead of having the opportunity to play and go to school, they are forced to perform hard physical labour on a daily basis. We are actively taking a stand against this issue and have thus incorporated the requirements of all ILO core labour standards into the CmiA criteria and control their compliance regularly on site. This means exploitative child labour is strictly forbidden," explains Christoph Kaut Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. In order to communicate these requirements to farmers in a clear and comprehensible manner, the foundation has created illustrations with the prestigious American children's book author and illustrator Donald Grant. The aim of the illustrations is to educate about the dangers of child labour and show the smallholder farmers that compliance with the CmiA criteria has a positive impact on their lives and those of their families. The drawings depict the daily life of a smallholder farmer and are shown as part of training to allow people to draw parallels to their own lives. Examples with reference to the everyday life in a village illustrate measures against child labour and show that it pays to protect the welfare and future of children.
Grant, who lives as a freelance author and illustrator in Paris, has been traveling the CmiA project regions for weeks on assignment to get a sense of what motivates people and how the story should be told in order to be truly convincing. “I had to first of all understand how my audience ticks, what appeals to them, what they enjoy, what moves them. I think the stories work because they truly reflect what people see and experience every day. They can become immersed in the illustrations and identify with the characters."
Another focus of CmiA in the fight against child labour are the cooperation projects that promote the construction of schools, cafeterias, and school gardens and make it thus possible for many children in remote regions to even attend school.