Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the African Cotton Foundation (ACF) have joined forces to launch an exciting new initiative called the Innovations Club.

This collaborative platform aims to bring together experts, researchers, agronomists, and extension specialists from both regional and international backgrounds

The Innovations Club launched with a three-day event to give participants the opportunity to learn from expert speakers, share their experiences, and engage in discussions on topics crucial to regenerative farming, such as composting methods, regenerative farming methodologies, biochar production, and biological crop protection.

In the recent gathering held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, over 40 agricultural advisors from CmiA-certified cotton companies and ACF members representing countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia participated.

Tina Stridde, CEO of the Aid by Trade Foundation, which owns the CmiA standards, highlights the need for swift and extensive action within the African cotton community.

According to Stridde, relying solely on “more” and “better” established practices, such as the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, is no longer sufficient.

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She said: “We need bold interventions and solutions. Innovations and technologies play a central role. They allow quantum leaps and developments without detours into a more sustainable future.”

According to Cotton Made in Africa, the African continent is currently grappling with a range of challenges, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, declining soil fertility, and limited access to water.

CmiA and ACF have long been committed to improving the livelihoods of cotton farming families while safeguarding the environment. However, with the existing challenges becoming increasingly complex, achieving the intended positive impact has become more difficult than ever. Cotton and other agro-based sectors in Africa face immense pressure to undergo transformation.

Belinda Edmonds, ACF CEO added: “African smallholder farmers face multiple challenges threatening their livelihoods, potentially increasing poverty levels and raising the threat of famine and other socio-economic and environmental catastrophes in many parts of the continent. We must regenerate our soils and rebuild healthy ecosystems as a matter of urgency. Nature has the solutions we need, but we must implement innovative and practical practices that support and speed up its processes.”

CmiA and ACF share a common commitment to support the cotton sector in addressing various challenges. In addition to workshops and events like the Innovations Club, they engage in ongoing exchange to foster continuous improvement.

The organisations also provide targeted co-financing for the introduction and implementation of innovations that contribute to building healthier ecosystems.

In April, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) released a new report analysing the trade and economic impact of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).

During an exclusive discussion with Just Style, the senior manager of industry and commerce at non-profit Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), Chema Triki explained: “West Africa can benefit further from AGOA. Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo in particular, are all aware of this, but there’s no reason why they can’t be much bigger in the AGOA space as long as it’s renewed for another ten years.”