West African Cotton Sourcing Coalition is set to Massively Increase Production and Sales of Organic and Fairtrade Cotton

Cotton Farmer working with baby strapped to her back

Fairtrade partners with innovative new multi-stakeholder initiative to provide market access for tens of thousands of West African small-scale Fairtrade organic farming families.

Fairtrade is proud to announce the launch of The Organic and Fairtrade Cotton Coalition (CCBE) West Africa, an exciting new collaboration which aims to make ten times more organic and Fairtrade cotton available from the region than there is now within the next few years. 

CCBE is a new multi-stakeholder initiative which will help more than 500,000, or 5% of all West African small-scale organic and Fairtrade cotton farmers across Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali and Senegal access global markets. It’s hoped that by 2025, producers will have benefitted from a fair and sustainable income earned from farming and processing approximately 40,000 tons of cotton fibre.

Cotton farmer in Mali with basket of cotton balanced on her head, holding a baby

If successful, the programme will expand to Central and East Africa. Participants will exchange knowledge and experience with other similar programmes that have already been established, such as the Chetna Coalition. CCBE will be launched at SICOT (Salon international du Coton et du Textile), on 26th September 2018.

Subindu Gharkel, Cotton and Textiles Lead at The Fairtrade Foundation said: “We are delighted to collaborate with the organic sector and the rest of the industry to try to find solutions to systemic problems so that cotton farmers in West Africa are able to sell their cotton on organic and Fairtrade terms.

“CCBE aims to establish reliable market access for tens of thousands of small farmer families in West Africa who are producing organic Fairtrade cotton and other organic crops. Complex issues in the global cotton industry mean millions of small-scale farmers are struggling to make a decent living from growing cotton and we urgently need to come up with viable solutions as an industry.”

CCBE has identified five key factors to support organic Fairtrade cotton to scale up:

Sourcing Coalition - Through a vertical and horizontal coalition of various players along the textile value-chain, we intend to enhance the competitiveness of sustainable textile products in the international market with a growing local value added.

Information Services - An innovative information system will reduce the complexities of data sharing and demand coordination into source-integrated supply networks by channelling it into a user-friendly application.

Production Services - Organic cotton producers will benefit from services of applied research, training, extension and capacity building to better understand, and to reach, the demand of the markets and to increase productivity and sustainability.

 • Advocacy - Ensure that organic Fairtrade cotton is promoted in the countries’ national agriculture strategies. Lobby for organic Fairtrade cotton from small-farmers at EU and local government level.

Value addition locally - Create initiatives to transform raw cotton in the countries of origin, to increase employment in the cotton industry (currently 95% of the raw cotton is exported). Building a sustainable local textile industry and supporting local handicraft creates the desired local value added.

It’s expected that the Coalition will generate enough profit to become self-sufficient in the next few years, thanks to economies of scale, synergies in vertical and horizontal collaboration and an innovative IT tool.

Find out more about Fairtrade cotton 

Where to buy Fairtrade cotton

Photos by Trevor Leighton.