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Why Egyptian Cotton Exports Reached Highest Levels in Five Years

Egyptian cotton production and exports are at their highest levels in five years following a renewed focus on improving sustainability, with the 2018-2019 season seeing a 45 percent increase in exports, according to the Cotton Egypt Association (CEA).

The CEA, an independent body responsible for the global brand, has been supporting the implementation of “The Egyptian Cotton Project” activities that include innovative training, education and awareness across the cotton supply chain.

These efforts fall under the CEA’s collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, implementing “The Egyptian Cotton Project,” and working with the Cotton for Life program and Better Cotton Iinitiative (BCI) to enhance and advance sustainability of Egyptian cotton, while reducing contamination.

The CEA said the cooperation with BCI has allowed the deployment of pilot cotton plantations supported by cotton traders, manufacturers and brands to pave the way for a BCI startup program in Egypt planned for the 2020-2021 cotton season.

“Our goal and ambition is to make Egyptian Cotton not only the most sustainable cotton, but one which has a traceable and transparent supply chain with positive impacts at every step along it, from the farmer to the brand, the retailer and the consumer,” CEA executive director Khaled Schuman said.

In addition to adopting organic production methods, reducing water consumption and pesticides, the Egyptian Cotton Project is implementing education programs that promote farmers’ and workers’ health and welfare, gender equality, and entrepreneurial opportunities for young people, and through awareness training sessions addressing topics such as child labor, the importance of education, and qualified employment to serve as a positive alternative for youth in rural areas.

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The Egyptian Cotton Project delivered technical workshops to 392 farmers on field management, irrigation, integrated pest management and harvesting. It also conducted approximately 50 field days in Damietta and Kafr El Sheikh governorates, coupling them with technical consultation sessions and on-field support.

“Trial areas adopting sustainable practices have seen a 30 percent increase in cotton yields and a 25 percent to 30 percent decrease in water consumption, according to the project’s data,” Schuman said.

The project’s stakeholders will continue to work toward enhancing the sustainability, inclusiveness and value addition of the long- and extra-long staple Egyptian Cotton by developing the economic, social and environmental performance of cotton manufacturers, and strengthening support institutions, CEA added.