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Better Cotton in Mali

Cotton production continues to grow rapidly in Mali and contributes significantly to the country’s economy despite often challenging trading conditions.

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Licensed Farmers
Tonnes of Better Cotton
Hectares Harvested

These figures are from the 2021/22 cotton season. To find out more, read our latest annual report.

The crop has grown in popularity among farmers since 1995, when the Malian government began actively promoting it as a good cash crop. By 2003, Mali had become Africa’s largest cotton producer, and today, cotton is the country’s main crop and second-largest export, employing around 40% of the rural population.

Better Cotton Partner in Mali

Our Programme Partner in Mali is the Compagnie Malienne pour le Developpement des Textiles (CMDT), a semi-public limited cotton company charged with the production and marketing of Mali’s cotton. CMDT is responsible for providing agricultural advice to cotton producers, marketing raw seed cotton harvested from the field with cottonseed and lint still attached, transporting and ginning this seed cotton to separate cotton lint from cottonseed and selling cotton fibre for export and to the Malian textile industries.

Sustainability challenges

Cotton farmers in Mali face climate challenges, with shorter growing seasons, poor soil health, high input costs and unstable cotton prices. Farmers rely on rain to grow their crops, so extreme weather in the form of late and erratic rainfall causes real problems. Many farmers have to re-sow their cotton seeds several times for their seedlings to become established.

Child labour still persists in Malian culture, so CMDT is working hard to help farmers understand that it’s important to identify, prevent and address the issue of children working in the fields. CMDT stepped up its efforts in the 2019-20 cotton season through increased training, including on how best to capture and record progress on this fundamental issue.

CMDT is also working hard to promote women’s empowerment. In the 2018-19 cotton season, 39% of the farmers and farm workers who received training in Mali were women. This might seem low, but in fact, many more women are now taking part thanks to on-the-ground experts focused on supporting rural women and helping them increase their economic independence.

Find out more about the outcomes farmers are experiencing by participating in the Better Cotton programme in our latest Annual Report

My choice to become an agronomist was guided by a passion to help smallholder farmers in the cotton sector, especially women… Women have typically had no say in the sector, from the fields all the way up to the cooperatives, despite playing an important role in cotton production.

Get in touch

Contact our team via the contact form if you’d like to learn more, become a partner or you’re a farmer interested in farming Better Cotton.