Egyptian Cotton Project teaching more farmers with sustainable practices.
Giza, Egypt – Egyptian cotton production and exports have hit a five-year high following a period of emphasis on improving sustainability.
The season 2018/2019 saw an increase of 45% in exports, according to The Cotton Egypt Association (CEA), the independent body responsible for the global brand.
CEA has been supporting the implementation of “The Egyptian Cotton Project,” activities that include innovative training, education and awareness for stakeholders across the cotton supply chain. The project is part of the CEA’s collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and also includes the Cotton for Life and Better Cotton initiatives, to advance sustainability while reducing contamination.
The cooperation with the Better Cotton Initiative has allowed the deployment of pilot cotton plantations, supported by cotton traders, manufacturers and brands to pave the way for a BCI start-up program in Egypt envisaged to start for the 2020/2021 cotton season.
CEA Executive Director Khaled Schuman said “Egyptian Cotton is already the finest in the world. Our goal and ambition are 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 with it – from the farmer to the brand, the retailer and the consumer.”
In addition to sustainability, the Egyptian Cotton Project is working with farmers and workers on the issues of health and welfare, gender equality and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth. Awareness training sessions address topics such as child labour, the importance of education and qualified employment to serve as a positive alternative for youth in rural areas.
The Egyptian Cotton Project delivered technical workshops to 392 farmers on-field management, irrigation, IPM and harvesting. It also conducted approximately 50 field days in both Damietta and Kafr el-sheik governorates, coupling them with technical consultation sessions and on-field support.
Cotton cultivation calendars with timeline guidance and best practices were distributed to cotton farmers and workers, and four observational study tours have been organized at a seed production unit in Sakha Research Station of the Cotton Research Institute, and at a nursery producing cotton seedlings in Kafr el-sheik governorate.
A reworked curriculum on organic cultivation has been extended nationwide by the Ministry of Education reaching around 150,000 students. The project introduced an entrepreneurship curriculum; and additional training of teachers in Agricultural schools have been rolled-out, focussing on sustainable practices and cotton contamination management.
“Trial areas adopting sustainable practices have seen a 30% increase in cotton yields and a 25-30% decrease in water consumption according to the project’s data,” said Schuman.
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