PR Image AwardIt all began as an exclusive cooperation with fashion and celebrity photographer Albert Watson in Benin. Now the journey goes on: For the Aid by Trade Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa Initiative Albert Watson - one of the most famous photographers in the world - braved unknown territory to photograph African smallholder farmers and their living environment in Benin. The pictures have already been shown in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and just recently in the Rautenstrauch Jost Museum in Cologne. We reported. Among many other applications two of these pictures have now been shortlisted for the PR Image Award by a jury of selected journalists and PR-experts.

Consequently, we now need your support! With your vote for CmiA you support the aim to show the people who are at the heart of our initiative - the smallholder cotton farmers and their families in Subsahara Africa. For the first category click Product; for the second click Portrait. Thank you for helping to spread the message of sustainable cotton growing in the world!

If you want to get to know more about Albert Watson's trip in Benin take a look here or get to know our Youtube-Channel.

More and more people cooperate with Cotton made in Africa. In the last harvest season, around 475,000 smallholder farmers from Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the programme. Including their direct dependents e.g. family members roughly more than 3 million people profit from the work done by the Cotton made in Africa initiative.

Qualification programmes teach smallholder farmers about efficient and environmentally friendly cultivation methods. Thereby farmers achieve increased yields thus improving their income and living conditions. Social programmes that focus on building up school infrastructure and promote women's cooperatives in rural cotton-growing regions furthermore supports farmers and their families. 

Get to know more here

We are delighted to announce that Cotton made in Africa is part of the Farm & Fiber report for 2012. You want to learn more about the whole report, what it says about CmiA and thereby broaden your knowledge about cotton worldwide? Read more here

CmiA CologneSince April 28 the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum has shown over 40 exclusive and impressive photographs by Albert Watson, one of the most successful fashion and portrait photographers in the world, within the framework of "Albert Watson: 14 Days in Benin". Last Sunday July 28 the doors of the exhibition opened for the last time.

Accompanied by numerous exhibitors, the exhibition "Albert Watson: 14 Days in Benin" ended with an exclusive fashion show by Ernsting's family and an open tour for all visitors. "Albert Watson: 14 Days in Benin" was part of the "Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa" retrospective shown in the House of Photography/ Deichtorhallen and curated by Ingo Taubhorn. In addition to the new photos from Benin, the world famous portrait of Alfred Hitchcock was also on display. 

In December 2011, the initiative succeeded in winning internationally famous star photographer Albert Watson for a two-week trip through Benin to photograph the people and their everyday lives. The resulting pictures offer insight into the world of the cotton farmers and communicate a better understanding of Africa and CmiA's work. Watson's photographs impressively portray the project's social and ecological goals without catering to visual stereotypes of rural Africa. The exhibit was a cooperation between the Deichtorhallen/House of Photography and the Aid by Trade Foundation. The show in Cologne was initiated by the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (German Investment and Development Society, DEG) and Ernsting's Family, a Cotton made in Africa Initiative demand partner. Additional support for the show comes from OTTO and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Society for International Cooperation, GIZ).

Farmer's DayJune 1, 2013 marked the eleventh World Farmers' Day, founded by UNESCO and the UN to call attention to the importance of agriculture for the global population. We would like to take this opportunity to thank those people our Cotton made in Africa Initiative is all about -- African smallholder cotton farmers.

Around 2.2 million smallholder farmers in Western and South-eastern Africa grow cotton. All together around 15.4 million people earn a living directly from cotton farming in Sub-Saharan Africa. Three million people are already benefiting from the Cotton made in Africa Initiative. Its goal is to empower participating smallholder farmers to improve their social, economic and ecological living conditions and that of their families by growing cotton. 

Yaya Arouna from Benin is one of them. He represents the 435,000 cotton farmers in five countries who are currently partners of Cotton made in Africa. Yaya Arouna lives in the small village of Sekrou in the Northwestern part of the West African Republic of Benin. He has grown cotton for over ten years now and been an initiative partner from the beginning on. Working the fields is exhausting. It starts with the ploughing of the fields in April and lasts until the ripe capsules can be harvested in November and December. Yaya Arouna takes care of the earth he is working on and the people depending on it by using modern cultivation methods that are trained within CmiA. 

His life has changed since he began working with Cotton made in Africa: "My soil was exhausted, depleted. Thanks to the initiative I learned how to improve the quality of my field." Sustainable growing methods such as crop rotation restored the soil. Yaya also enriches his field with manure and legumes. His production per hectare is above average for the region. "I earn more than my fellow villagers who did not join Cotton made in Africa", reports Yaya Arouna, who has a family of seven children to feed. He is happy to share his knowledge with the other farmers. His father, Orou Yaya, 90-years-old and respected as a wise man in the village, knows: "Education makes a farmer a better farmer. I didn't go to school, but I do understand that education means progress."  Unlike his father, Yaya Arouna attended school for eight years and speaks three languages: his mother tongue Yom, regionally widespread Dendi, and French. 

Education is a central issue addressed by the Aid by Trade Foundation. Because cotton farmers are what the Cotton made in Africa initiative is all about, the foundation invests in personalized training and societal development. By promoting educational infrastructure in rural regions, the AbTF is helping educate the children of cotton-growing families. By the end of 2012, the foundation together with partners had been instrumental in building two schools, planting 14 school gardens to improve pupils' food security, setting up 40 canteens at schools, awarding 300 scholarships and distributing 20,000 school uniforms -- in Benin alone. 

On the occasion of Albert Watson's visit in Benin Yaya emphasizes: „To meet the photographer Albert Watson was an amazing experience for me. I had the chance to show him that my life is much more easier for me and my family since I joined CmiA. [Not only me but also] my seven children profit from the initiative: I am glad that I can send them to school - thanks to Cotton made in Africa - so that they can once become doctors or engeneers. Mr Watson was very much interested in everything. He is now like me part of the Cotton made in Africa family. With his photos he supports our work, life and that our cotton will become more popular."

Fashion Contest ShirtTo mark the occasion of the Cotton made in Africa Fashion Contest, design student Michelle Thornhill created a t-shirt that combines traditional African prints with modern design. The shirt is available at the OTTO online shop since April 23. Under the "Design instead of Jute" motto, the South African convinced the well-known Cotton made in Africa Fashion Contest 2012 jury with her design for a dress made of raw cotton. She took first place over 21 other international contestants. Her prize was the opportunity to create a t-shirt exclusively for OTTO.

The design is very primal; it was important to me to use warm colours and African prints," Michelle Thornhill explains. In addition to designing the t-shirt for the OTTO "Chillytime" brand, the CPUT design student also had the chance to produce her raw cotton dress for the Cotton made in Africa Initiative. OTTO furthermore sponsored the second place winner, Kristen Nuttall from the ESMOD in Berlin, a Privileg brand sewing machine she can use to realise her design ideas. 

The Aid by Trade Foundation held the Cotton made in Africa Fashion Contest 2012 to show that sustainability and fashion need not be mutually exclusive. Together with the respected ESMOD Berlin (Germany), LISOF (South Africa), Johari (Kenya), Buru Buru Institute (Kenya) and CPUT (South Africa) fashion design schools, the foundation invited applicants to submit a work of art made of CmiA raw cotton that combined fashion and sustainability and creatively and fashionably staged cotton as a symbol of CmiA. An eight-person jury consisting of renowned representatives from journalism, fashion design and the textile branch, such as Jan Gritz (Fashion Editor at BRIGITTE), designer Julia Starp, and Jacqueline Shaw (blogger and founder of the africanfashionguide), declared Michelle Thornhill the winner. 


Aid by Trade Foundation

Cotton made in Africa
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Younoussa Imorou Ali
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