The initiative looks to help smallholder organic cotton farmers in Brazil to increase their overall productivity and living standards.

The initiative looks to help smallholder organic cotton farmers in Brazil to increase their overall productivity and living standards.

The C&A Foundation has named a number of innovations that it intends to support to help smallholder organic cotton farmers in Brazil to increase their overall productivity and living standards.

C&A Foundation late last year partnered with the Brazilian NGO ESPLAR and World-Transforming Technologies (WTT) on the 'Meaningful Innovation for Family Farming - Sustainable Cotton Challenge.' Its goal was to find ways to help accelerate organic cotton for smallholder farmers in Brazil, with funding of EUR100,000 (US$113,480) to get the initiatives up-and-running.  

"Brazil is the world's fifth largest producer of cotton. And while smallholder farmers drive the production of organic cotton, it remains less than 1% of total cotton production. C&A Foundation believes this must change," said the corporate foundation affiliated with global retailer C&A.

The eight winning proposals are:

  • Motorised harvesters – a backpack equipped with a suction tube for harvesting cotton. This method makes cotton harvesting twice as fast for smallholder farmers, improving their efficiency.   
  • Simplifying renewable energy – which enables farmers to produce oil and other by-products from corn and sesame on their own property. Farmers receive training workshops, as well as advice on how to generate their own renewable energy to produce oil and other by-products. As corn and sesame are usually grown together with cotton, this generates extra income for farmers.   
  • Making organic certification assessment processes simple – with laws in Brazil making it more and more difficult for smallholder farmers in Brazil to receive and maintain organic cotton certification, this initiative will develop a simpler system and train farmers how to use it. 
  • Motorised scythes – converting motorcycles into plows that can be used by farmer collectives.  
  • Manual cotton baler – will offer cotton farmers the opportunity to bale their cotton on their own property using small pressing machines in order to make cotton easier to transport.
  • Hydraulic-pneumatic press for oilseeds – introduces a new technology capable of removing up to 40 litres of oil from seeds byproducts such as cotton, corn and sesame seeds.  
  • Hammer mill for crushing seeds – using a similar technic to the hydraulic-pneumatic press, this initiative creates a machine to crush seeds to feed livestock. 
  • Cotton seeds retriever – employing an environmentally-safer method for removing cotton fibres from seeds for reuse, using a flame instead of chemicals.