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Ethiopia Joins Sustainable Cotton Made in Africa Initiative

Sustainable cotton will soon be cultivated in North-Western Ethiopia as the nation has been verified in accordance with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) sustainability standard.

The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), which is responsible for the CmiA initiative, will now be involved in sustainable cotton farming, supporting more than 9,000 smallholder farmers.

“With the addition of Ethiopia, there are now round about 650,000 smallholder farmers growing cotton according to the CmiA sustainability standards. With their family members included, this totals over 5.5 million people in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Christoph Kaut, AbTF managing director said.

Since 2005, CmiA has worked toward improving living conditions for cotton farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through the initiative, African smallholders learn about efficient, environmentally friendly methods for cultivation through expert agricultural training. CmiA has also established an alliance of companies that purchase its sustainable raw material, and pay a licensing fee to use a seal that says so. Proceeds from the fees are reinvested for cotton projects in the region.

“Our standard is specifically aimed at smallholder farmers in our project countries who only have a small plot of land and who are most in need of support. In order to protect the environment and vital resources, the exploitation of primary forests is forbidden, as is encroachment into established protected areas, the use of genetically modified seeds, and artificial irrigation,” Kaut said.

Last year, more than 150,000 tons of cotton were produced in accordance with CmiA’s standard. And with the addition of Ethiopia — and previously Uganda, Tanzania and Cameroon — the amount of CmiA-verified cotton is expected to rise significantly in 2015.