Attendees and speakers at the AbTF Cotton Conference were clear that there can be no traceability or transparency without the workers in the fields and throughout supply chains.

Changing legal requirements around the world are increasing demand for traceability in supply chains. Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) offered a solution to new requirements with its Hard Identity Preserved system.

German diversified retail co-operative REWE Group shared how it had successfully achieved 100% traceable CmiA cotton in its products using the HIP system.

As part of a panel event, a variety of experts from throughout the textile supply chain also discussed how traceability can be achieved, particularly through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and physical monitoring.

The experts agreed that AI could become a “real game changer” in fulfilling due diligence requirements.

However, the panel also agreed that human beings are “irreplaceable” when it comes to setting up new technologies, adapting to local contexts and implementing them in close co-operation with people on the ground.

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Speaking at the opening ceremony, Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF)’s managing director Tina Stridde commented: “We rely on innovation as an effective tool to make cotton production ecologically and socially sustainable. Together with our partners, we want to work collaboratively to create a cotton sector that not only generates benefits and opportunities for every stakeholder but also ensures that nature is not harmed or exploited in the process.”

On the first day of the conference, AbTF announced its new Regenerative Cotton Standard (RCS).

The RCS will be the first standard of sustainable cotton production introduced by the foundation outside of Africa.

In November 2023, AbTF unveiled an initiative called the Regenerative Cotton Standard (RCS) that was said to prioritise the interests and knowledge of small-scale farmers actively involved in the cotton production process.