Innovation is essential to sustainably grow cotton, a crop that is key to global development, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said today on the occasion of World Day of Cotton.
At a global event organized by the FAO to mark World Cotton Day, Qu underlined the need to transform the sector to make it more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
An estimated 100 million family farmers in 80 countries depend directly on the cotton industry, with women playing a key role in the value chain.
It supports the economies of many emerging and low-income countries.
World cotton production is valued at about $50 billion, while world trade amounts to $20 billion.
In recent years, however, the sector has faced numerous challenges.
Climate change, pests and diseases, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the developing global economic slowdown have hampered the cotton industry.
The volatility of market prices has hit the sector hard.
It also has to compete with synthetic fibers.
“We need to do things differently, through innovative approaches to enhance cotton’s contribution to human well-being,” said the FAO Director-General.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Chad, Ali Djadda Kampard delivered the opening speech.
This was followed by a video message from the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Marcos Montes Cordeiro.
Discussions focused on how innovation and technology can drive solutions to the challenges facing the sector, while fostering sustainability in the cotton value chain and creating new market opportunities for cotton farmers, particularly small farmers.
Cotton’s role in socio-economic development “A single tonne of cotton provides, on average, five people with year-round employment, often in some of the poorest regions,” said the FAO Director-General.
“It is a livelihood that sustains millions of small farmers and their communities, ensuring their food security and nutritional needs,” he added.
He highlighted the problems farmers face, such as limited access to technologies, insufficient support services, lack of investment and depleted natural resources that hamper the growth of this water-intensive crop.
He called on decision makers to come up with inclusive policies that better develop the crop and promote decent jobs in the cotton sector.
World Cotton Day was launched at the initiative of the Cotton Four (C-4) countries Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali. In August 2021, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed October 7 as the annual World Cotton Day.