Multiple African Countries: Cotton made in Africa (CmiA)

The African continent represents 5% of global cotton production and more than 9% of the worlds cotton exports. Cotton is one of the most important cash crops on the continent, with more than 2.5 million livelihoods dependent on cotton production alone. Most cotton production in Africa is by smallholders (farmers with less than one hectare of land). These farmers tend to achieve low yields and have a limited access to inputs such as water and pesticides. Quality has traditionally been seen as high throughout the continent, largely thanks to hand picking.

BCI started its first operations in Africa in 2010 and now operate directly in 4 African countries: Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and South Africa.

Who is BCI’s Partner in Africa?

In 2013, following three years of collaboration, BCI completed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), owners of the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) standard. An independent study comparing the two standards led to a ‘benchmarking’ agreement between BCI and AbTF, whereby the cotton verified as CmiA can also be sold as Better Cotton (but not vice versa). This partnership means that we are not introducing a parallel scheme in countries where AbTF and CmiA are already delivering benefits to smallholder farmers.

Ultimately, the aim of the partnership is to improve the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Working groups have been put in place to develop common solutions for issues such as child labour, Integrated Pest Management, monitoring and evaluation and supply chain.

The aim is also to provide textile companies and traders with increased access to more sustainable cotton. Textile companies can now procure cotton produced from CmiA-Better Cotton verified cotton companies – click here to see the updated list of verified companies. This will, in turn, increase the sale of more sustainable African cotton on the world market consequently improving economic and environmental sustainability of smallholder farmers on the continent.

Who grows Better Cotton?

Most of the farmers qualifying under CmiA are now able to market their cotton as Better Cotton or Cotton made in Africa, depending on the demand in the market. This gives increased flexibility to farmers whilst avoiding additional costs.

In the 2017-18 cotton season, 935,256 CmiA farmers in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia produced 562,000 metric tonnes of cotton lint in line with the CmiA and Better Cotton Standards.

Find out more about AbTF and CmiA.