Cotton made in Africa (CmiA)
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Multiple African Countries (CmiA & SCS)

Africa represents 5% of global cotton production and more than 9% of the world’s cotton exports. Cotton is one of the most important cash crops on the continent.

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Licensed Farmers*
Tonnes of Better Cotton*
Hectares Harvested*

Most cotton grown in Africa is grown by smallholder farmers, each with less than 20 hectares of land. While fibre quality is typically high due to hand-picking, cotton farmers in Africa face steep challenges, including limited access to water and other inputs that are vital to producing healthy crops, and often suffer from low yields and profits.

Better Cotton first began working in Africa in 2010. and now runs programmes directly in four African countries: Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and South Africa.

We also partner with Aid by Trade Foundation in multiple African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Better Cotton Partner in Multiple African Countries

In 2013, following three years of collaboration, Better Cotton entered into a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), owners of the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) Standard and Smallholder Cotton Standard (SCS). Together, we aim to improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cotton verified as CmiA/SCS can also be sold as Better Cotton, following an independent study proving that the two standards share the same high requirements. With the flexibility to market their cotton as Cotton Made in Africa or Better Cotton, depending on market demand, farmers have increased flexibility while avoiding additional costs.

*Note: As Better Cotton and AbTF both run programmes in Mozambique, we have to remove duplicate/overlapping data, so that we do not double count the farmers participating in these projects. This is why the data Better Cotton reports on CmiA programme countries is lower than the figures reported by AbTF.

Sustainability challenges

Severe droughts in many African countries and irregular rainfall have caused a lot of disruption for cotton farmers. Heavy rainfall can wash away seeds or damage crops, while insufficient rainfall or rain arriving later than expected can affect healthy plant growth.

In these challenging conditions, and with some countries seeing low prices for cotton, some farmers have opted to grow other cash crops such as soybeans or sesame instead.

Our partner in Africa, Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), helps cotton farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices as well as develop solutions that are accessible to farmers at a local level, such as natural molasses traps to manage cotton pests. 

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

Our training and support go beyond sustainable agricultural practices. We also work with cotton companies and retail partners to invest in community projects focused on women’s empowerment, education, nature protection and water and hygiene, providing broader benefits to cotton-producing communities.

Image: Licensed CmiA Farmers © Martin J. Kielmann for CmiA. 2020.

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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.