Serious questions about cotton traceability in Egypt have urged role players to highlight strategies to help fully realise the potential of the climate-resilient textile and cotton sector.
While Egyptian cotton is mostly renowned for its outstanding physical fibre qualities, exceptional aesthetic performance, and unmatched durability, the Egyptian cotton-textile value chain is both a contributor and a victim of climate change, some experts say.
This was highlighted on the sidelines of the Cop27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
During his keynote address, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, chief executive of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), said, “the African cotton sector has been a key focus of ITFC, particularly in all major producing countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali with $1.4 billion in financing the cotton sector.
“Since its inception, the ITFC has provided approximately $7 billion in financing to the food and agriculture sectors. Farmers are one concrete example of how our impact manifests. ITFC also collaborates with Unido through the Better Cotton Initiative because of our long-standing involvement in the African cotton sector. Together, we assist brands and retailers in achieving more consistent quality and sourcing their products from Egyptian producers who adhere to national and regulatory agricultural practices.”
The power of traceability
On the regional level, evidence shows that the main issue of the African cotton and textile industry remains the low level of local processing of the fibre and the valuation of byproducts.
Despite some issues in the cotton and textile sector, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which came into force in January 2021, offers a large market of more than 1.3 billion consumers, as well as several business opportunities. This large market should further stimulate industrialisation and investment opportunities in the value chain.
Meanwhile, according to Sara Berlese, Unido’s regional office program officer based in Egypt, traceability is a powerful enabler for more sustainable, transparent, and inclusive cotton-textile value chains in Africa.
“Unido is keen to further support multistakeholder initiatives, focusing on skills development and innovative digital solutions to foster new opportunities for the African cotton textile industry,” she said.
This article was first published in FoodForAfrika.com.
Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.