Criteria of the Cotton made in Africa Standards: Indicators for the Cotton made in Africa Sustainability Goals

The criteria of the CmiA standards include ecological, social, and economic aspects of cotton production and processing. A two-stage list of criteria ensures that the participating cotton farmers successively adapt their farming methods and the cotton companies their processing of the raw material to increase ecological, economic, and social sustainability. As part of the CmiA-Organic standard, additional requirements must be proven to fulfill internationally recognized guidelines for organic farming (Criteria of the EC No. 834/2007 standard and GOTS) in addition to the regular verification. The social, ecological and economic criteria of the CmiA standards are made available to the public down below. They can additionally be downloaded here.

Exclusion Criteria: Minimum Requirements for Participation in Cotton made in Africa

Whether a cotton company may even participate in the Cotton made in Africa initiative is first determined against a set of exclusion criteria:

  • Only smallholder farmers who manage a small parcel of land (average 1-3ha) for securing their income may participate in the Cotton made in Africa initiative.
  • The smallholder farmers practice rainfed agriculture exclusively. This means they do not use any artificial irrigation.  
  • The deforestation of primary forests is prohibited as well as encroaching upon nature reserves.
  • Child labour (according to the ILO Conventions 138 and 182), human trafficking (according to the UN Palermo Protocol) and forced labor (according to ILO Conventions 29 and 105) are strictly prohibited.
  • Freedom of association and the membership in institutional structures that represent smallholder farmers respectively employees in the cotton gins is ensured. The right to and the outcomes of collective bargaining is secured (as defined by ILO Conventions 87 and 98).
  • Employees in the cotton gins are granted the freedom of association. (see ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining 87 and 98)
  • Pesticides regulated by the Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention or which the WHO has ranked as extremely or highly hazardous (class Ia and Ib) may not be used. For their own safety, pregnant women, nursing mothers, sick people, children, and untrained and/or inexperienced persons are prohibited from working with pesticides. A list of prohibited pesticides can be found here.
  • The use of pesticides that have national approval for the use in cotton cultivation yet do not fulfill international standards and are identified in at least one local language is prohibited.
  • The use of genetically modified seeds is excluded.
  • Business relationships must comply with national laws and practices and international convenants according to the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.
  • The principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value is secured (as defined in ILO Convention 100, Art. 1).
  • Discrimination in the workplace is strictly forbidden (as defined in ILO Convention 111).


Sustainability Criteria: Guidelines for Continous Improvement

To produce cotton according to Cotton made in Africa standards, smallholder farmers and cotton companies also need to take into account several so-called sustainability criteria and meet them progressivley. These are verified at the cotton farmer and ginning levels.

At the cotton farmer level:

  • Maintain soil fertility and protect waters: Environmentally friendly agricultural methods, such as cultivating the fields using crop rotation or the producing of natural fertilizer, protect the soil and groundwater, prevent soil from becoming depleted, and reduce pest infestation.
  • Controlled and reduced use of pesticides: Through the threshold principle, the cotton farmers learn how to use pesticides in a limited and responsible manner.
  • Regular training in the responsible use of pesticides teaches the cotton farmers about the risks and effects of pesticides. This includes proper training in wearing protective clothing during application, using appropriate equipment, and keeping containers with pesticides out of the reach of children.
  • The cotton company secures pre-financing for smallholder farmers for investments that are necessary for cotton cultivation such as seed or fertilizer. Cotton farmers are informed about the cost of these expenses before signing the contract.
  • The cotton farmers receive fair pay on time. Efforts are made to ensure that the farmers can be represented at levels at which national cotton prices are negotiated. They can thus have an influence on pricing.
  • There is transparency in the classification of cotton quality and the price paid for the raw material.

At the ginning level:

  • Regular employees and seasonal workers in the cotton gins have written employment contracts.
  • Regular working hours are adhered to. Overtime is paid in full and in accordance with national law. (see ILO Convention 1)
  • The monthly salary paid on time exceeds or corresponds to at least the national set minimum wage (see ILO Conventions 26 and 131).
  • All employees have guaranteed access to health and safety measures, such as wearing dust masks. (see ILO Convention 155) 
  • There is a plan in place for reducing undesirable environmental impacts.

Water - a Precious Resource

Cotton made in Africa solely practices rainfed cotton cultivation. This is a major difference compared to global cotton production. About three-quarters of the world's harvested cotton is irrigated. The scarce resource is protected by CmiA - a measure that saves lives. Learn more..

CmiA Against Child Labour

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. Cotton made in Africa supports the fight against child labour by improving the living conditions through higher incomes and through community projects. CmiA upholds the Conventions 138 and 182 of the International Labour Organization (ILO): Any form of exploitative child labour, labour that harms the health and development of children, and any type of child labour that is performed outside of the family, is strictly forbidden according to the Cotton made in Africa criteria. This also applies to child trafficking and forced labour. The children may assist with work on the family farm, provided they have enough time for school and free time. Learn more..



Aid by Trade Foundation

Cotton made in Africa
Gurlittstraße 14
20099 Hamburg

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
Mobil: +229 97 29 34 96 / 94 15 67 67
Skype : yimorouali


Bangladesh: CmiA Registration of Spinning and Fabric Mills

Mahbub Khan
Mobile: +88 (0)171 - 312 - 2417