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HAWASSA – Ethiopia is seeking to dramatically boost its sustainable cotton sector, with cotton now seen as a key “strategic crop” given the government’s ambitions for the country’s garment and textiles industries. The Government of Ethiopia has now released figures outlining the scale of the challenge for the country’s cotton sector. They show Ethiopia has about three million hectares of land suitable for cotton production, yet on average for the past five years, only about 125,000 hectares has been cultivated.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry says Ethiopia ranked tenth from lint-cotton producing African countries in 2015/16 with 42,000 tones.

Said a note from the MOI: “The Garment and Textile sector is one of the priority sectors of the Government of Ethiopia in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II). The government of Ethiopia is diligently working to attract significant investments that will meet up goals of earning a total of US$1bn through textile and garment export during the GTP II implementation years, 2015-2019.

“In this context, cotton without a doubt is key strategic crop. However, due to increased global awareness about impact of sustainable cotton production on climate change over the last decade, 36 major brands and retailers have agreed to use 100 per cent from Sustainable Source only by 2025.

“For Ethiopia to become globally competitive as a textile manufacturing industry hub, massive improvement on the availability, affordability and access to high quality cotton and other natural fibre is crucial. In this regard besides improving farm productivity, quality improvements in the ginning and processing industries, improving the marketing infrastructure and support services as well as the issue of sustainability in the sector would be of the utmost importance.”

The MOI claims that Ethiopian cotton “by default” is organic as there low use of chemicals and limited use of fertilizers.

Since 2014, an annual average of 11,000 tonnes of CmiA certified cotton have been produced by 20,000 small holder farmers and one ginnery which is CmiA certified.

Since 2017 BCI cotton has also been under a pilot project on three mechanised cotton farms, two ginneries and one farmers union of nearly 50 small holder cotton farmers.

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