To ensure basic hygiene measures even in the remote growing regions of Cotton Made in Africa, we are currently working with our partner cotton companies to distribute soap, hand disinfectants and “tippy-taps” (water canisters as hand washing facilities). The distribution campaign is taking place in the villages of currently eight Cotton Made in Africa partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  The supplies, together with information material in the form of texts and pictograms that explain the risks of infection and hygiene measures, are made available to the people at central locations in the villages. A simple but important support to enable one of the basic measures to combat the COVID-19 virus by reaching out to people who often have no or no regular access to soap and water. The practical implementation is organised by the cotton companies, while the Aid by Trade Foundation initiated the action and provided the financial means. 

Welthungerhilfe is a long-standing partner of the Cotton made in Africa initiative. Together, we have already initiated projects in African cotton-growing regions - such as an illiteracy project for adults in Burkina Faso or a water and sanitation project in Zimbabwe. As a long-standing member of the Cotton made in Africa Advisory Board, Dr. Iris Schöninger is part of the panel of experts and an important discussion partner as well as advisor to the management. We had the opportunity to talk to her about the current crisis and learn from her about the special challenges Africa will be facing according to her:

"In poorer countries in Africa and Asia, the coronavirus is not only a health hazard. If fields can no longer be cultivated, supply shortages occur, and supply chains are interrupted. If the global economy slides into recession as a result of the corona crisis, this will also have devastating consequences for the poorest. Even with one percent less economic growth, the number of poor and starving people could increase by two percent. The measures imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating the already difficult food situation. Poorer countries need emergency aid to respond to the current crisis and the destruction of livelihoods. In the future, the focus will be on protection against social risks and a reversal of the trend towards more regional and fairer food systems. We must now support the most vulnerable people - it is a question of basic human solidarity.”

 

Dr. Iris Schöninger,

Political Communication & Fundamental Principles

Welthungerhilfe e.V.

From Germany

Member of the Cotton made in Africa Advisory Board

"CmiA helped us to improve the business"

Taslimul Hoque on the purity of African cotton, smart customer acquisition and the influence of consumers

Mr. Hoque, you work at Square Textile Ltd., a vertically integrated textile manufacturer based in Bangladesh. What does that mean and what do you do specifically?

Square is a vertically integrated textile producer based in Bangladesh. We cover several stages of value creation from yarns to ready garments. I work here as General Manager and am responsible for procurement, production, marketing and logistics.

You have been a CmiA registered partner since 2009. What motivated you to become a partner?

After learning about the program, we immediately decided to trade CmiA cotton. Our decision was based on two major benefits: By using CmiA-certified cotton, we can reliably source sustainable cotton from Africa, thereby diversifying our raw material sources. The CmiA program also helped us to reduce quality and delivery risks. As a result, we were able to increase the use of African cotton at a much faster pace. However, it is also important for us to gain access to a number of new customers who purchase our CmiA-labeled yarns. In a nutshell, CmiA helped us grow and improve our business.

You were awarded the CmiA Best Practice Award in 2018. What was your biggest achievement?

Our business volume has increased steadily since registering for CmiA. In 2018, our CmiA yarn sales reached an annual turnover of 1.31 million kilograms. And we expect further growth in 2019.

What challenges did you face in implementing CmiA cotton in your production?

Before registering for CmiA, we were used to processing much cleaner cotton. At first, we found some challenges in mitigating the contamination in yarns and fabrics while processing CmiA cotton. We then developed new processes, invested in new machines to solve the problem and improve our capability to process more CmiA cotton.

Hand-picked cotton is often associated with poor quality and complicated processing. Is that correct?

With African cotton, the contamination is relatively high. We find our customers are increasingly becoming sensitive to fiber contamination. So, from cotton harvesting to ginning right through to the final processing stages of textiles, we need to put in more effort to remove contaminants.

You work together with companies and brands worldwide. What changes are you currently seeing in the demand for sustainably produced textiles?

There are three major changes: First, a keen interest from retailers in sustainable raw materials. In addition, a shorter delivery time for shipping garments. And last but not least, retailers and brands are continuously increasing their order volumes for clothing made from sustainable cotton.

What are the biggest changes facing the textile industry?

The changing preferences of consumers have a major impact on us all across the textile value chain. Greater attention to what has been produced changes the market by accelerating the implementation of sustainable processes and increasing the demand for sustainable raw materials.

The corona pandemic keeps a firm grip on the entire world and is an incredible challenge for all of us every day. We must adapt to difficult and unforeseen situations almost hourly. The Covid-19 pandemic is also having a huge impact on the global cotton and textile production and poses unprecedented challenges for the entire industry. On this page we would like to inform you about how our partners from the production countries and from the textile industry are dealing with the situation and how our stakeholders assess the situation.


 

Welthungerhilfe is a long-standing partner of the Cotton made in Africa initiative. Together, we have initiated projects in African cotton-growing regions - such as an illiteracy project for adults in Burkina Faso or a water and sanitation project in Zimbabwe. As member of the Cotton made in Africa Advisory Board Dr. Iris Schöniger is part of the panel of experts and an important discussion partner as well as advisor to the management. We had the opportunity to talk to her about the current crisis and learn from her about the special challenges Africa will be facing according to her:

"In poorer countries in Africa and Asia, the coronavirus is not only a health hazard. If fields can no longer be cultivated, supply shortages occur, and supply chains are interrupted. If the global economy slides into recession as a result of the corona crisis, this will also have devastating consequences for the poorest. Even with one percent less economic growth, the number of poor and starving people could increase by two percent. The measures imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating the already difficult food situation. Poorer countries need emergency aid to respond to the current crisis and the destruction of livelihoods. In the future, the focus will be on protection against social risks and a reversal of the trend towards more regional and fairer food systems. We must now support the most vulnerable people - it is a question of basic human solidarity.”

Dr. Iris Schöninger,
Political Communication & Fundamental Principles
Welthungerhilfe e.V.
From Germany
Member of the Cotton made in Africa Advisory Board 


 

Minhazul Reaz, Director of the CmiA registered spinning mill Multimode Resource Ltd from Bangladesh, processes CmiA cotton into yarns before they are used to produce fabrics and textiles. The Covid-19 pandemic massively hits his business and country. We had the chance to talk to him about the impact of the current crisis on his country and business:

It is a very difficult situation worldwide of course but the ripple effect of this has hit Bangladesh’s garments industry quite hard. So far at least 1.48 Billion dollars’ worth of production has been delayed by the buyer which has put the textile and garment manufacturer into a severe financial downfall and difficulties. There is no other way to deal with it but to shut down the factories for a few days in order stop the spread of the virus. Bangladesh Government had issued a lockdown on all institutions for 10 days approx. However, given the social and cultural aspect of the country, a “social distancing” isn’t really something Bangladeshis are familiar with and finding it hard to adapt. Populations that are in the less solvent part of the society e.g daily wage earner, has been hit pretty badly in this pandemic in Bangladesh. As a spinner, we are seeing a sharp decline in the yarn prices and a massive drop in the cotton prices. It is very difficult to predict what will happen once this pandemic is over, but one thing is certain, we have to work as an industry towards recovery not only in Bangladesh but worldwide. Stay safe and stay well.“ 

Minhazul Reaz
Director, Multimode Resource Ltd.
From Bangladesh


#stayathomeThe COVID-19 pandemic also affects us, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF). Until further notice, we do not travel to our project areas in Africa or to the textile production markets around the world to protect the health of our employees, partners and customers. We have shifted our daily work to home office and continue to work and connect virtually with all our colleagues and stakeholders. This way we ensure that our work for smallholder farmers in Africa and the protection of the environment continues. With the measures we have introduced, we are following the advice of the German Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are observing current developments very closely and are in regular contact with our partners along the textile value chain in order to act together now and in the future in a sustainable, effective and responsible manner.

All the more reason for us to appeal to your solidarity, which is more in demand today than ever. Numerous livelihoods that are closely linked to the Cotton Made in Africa initiative are at stake worldwide. When shopping, show solidarity with the people behind our textiles and with the environment, whose preservation we must urgently ensure.

You can still contact us by phone or e-mail directly to the well-known colleagues or simply send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Warmest regards,

Tina Stridde

Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation

 

Credit: Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge 

“We need solidarity.”

Torsten Stau on work wear, cooperation with civil society, and CmiA in the mass market

Mr. Stau, you are responsible for many areas at the REWE Group. What do you do exactly?

Within the REWE Group, I am responsible for the areas of purchasing and category management non-food, capital and consumer goods as well as PENNY Online. In addition, I am the CEO of HLS GmbH, which stands for Handel-und Lager-Service, a trade and warehouse service provider. And finally, Non-Executive Director of REWE Far East Ltd., the procurement organization of the REWE Group, which procures goods from the Asian market for the REWE Group.

The REWE Group has been a partner of CmiA for many years. It has continuously increased its demand for CmiA cotton. How can business and sustainability be combined?

At the start of the cooperation 10 years ago, our share of more sustainable cotton was 15 percent. Today it’s over 70 percent, with the aim of converting to 100 percent for all private label textile products by 2025. To achieve this goal, we rely on the Cotton made in Africa raw material, which ensures both ecological and social improvements at the beginning of the supply chain, thus helping us to live up to our responsibility in the value chain. On the other hand, we have now managed to ensure that CmiA can hold its own in price competition with conventional cotton.

What feedback on CmiA do you get from employees, customers and media?

In 2016, we started to switch our work wear to CmiA. This will be the case for all workwear in Germany by 2020. In addition, we regularly inform our employees about CmiA through activities. Externally, we inform the public about this successful cooperation through various formats and on various occasions. Internal and external feedback is entirely positive.

You have many years of experience in the international textile industry. How do you assess the development of the topic of sustainability?

Demand for more sustainable cotton has evolved from a niche to a mass market. CmiA also has its share in this. In terms of content, a lot was added: Whereas in the 1990s, we were almost exclusively concerned with social issues, today, also ecological issues increasingly have to be solved.

Do you have an example of this?

Many. Another very striking signal sent against disposable plastic was when the REWE Group became the first retailer in Germany to discontinue selling extremely non-durable plastic straws across the board in spring 2019. We are also getting deeper and deeper into the supply chain. A good example of this are our activities as part of the Detox campaign, with which we are eliminating harmful chemicals from lower levels of textile production in order to help protect water as a resource. In addition, many industry and multi-stakeholder initiatives have emerged, such as the ‘Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien’ (Alliance for Sustainable Textiles). A joint commitment is often more effective and efficient than individual activities. We are also responding to the growing demand for transparency.

Do you also face challenges when implementing CmiA?

Sure. This is particularly true in countries that are themselves strong producers of cotton. There, the question of price is much more difficult to implement.

If you had one wish, what would the textile industry look like in the future?

We need even more industry solutions and market participants to join forces to implement social and ecological requirements within the value chain. This applies vertically in the supply chain for suppliers and production sites as well as horizontally for cooperation between companies. To achieve this, we first need more transparency in the value chains. In order to change basic conditions, companies must also cooperate with civil society, governments, and standard organizations.

Contact

Aid by Trade Foundation

Cotton made in Africa
Gurlittstraße 14
20099 Hamburg
Germany

info@abt-foundation.org

Tel.: +49 (0)40 - 2576 - 755 - 0

Fax: +49 (0)40 - 2576 - 755 - 11

 

Coordinator CmiA Quality Assurance for West and Central Africa 

Younoussa Imorou Ali
Mail: younoussa.imorouali@abt-foundation.org
Mobil: +229 97 29 34 96 / 94 15 67 67
Skype : yimorouali

 

Bangladesh: CmiA Registration of Spinning and Fabric Mills

Mahbub Khan
Mail:  mahbub.khan@abt-foundation.net
Mobile: +88 (0)171 - 312 - 2417  

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