Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is one of the most important cultivated plants in the world. About 200 millions of people in more than 70 countries worldwide are envolved in the production of cotton. This turns it to an important economic factor in developing and industrialised countries.

Since the Second World War the consumption and the demand on cotton increases continually. Despite of the population growth the total production remained constant during the last twelfe years (18-20 tons per year). With a global market share of about 40%, cotton stays one of the most important natural products. The twelve major countries of origin, supply 90% of the global production. The economic supremacy of these countries enables them to dictate the world price and type of production. Therefore they are jointly responsible for the non-sustainable development of cotton industry.

The source of income of the people in the cotton producing areas, but also the worldwide supply of cotton is endangered in many ways. The contamination of ground and ground water by irrigation and the intensive use of fertiliser with the intention of yield increase effects a shortage of water and acrage (cultivable land) as well as a considerable health risks for the population. WHO estimates that every year three millions of people sicken and more than 20.000 die because of the application (use) of pesticides.

Since 1995 in Meatu (West of Tansania, region of Shinyanga)) organic cotton is grown. In the year 2000, 320 farmers with 3176 acres of cultivable land took part in the project. The project “organic cotton” compares conventional to organic agricultural production considering ecological, economic und social effects and develops solutions for a sustainable use.

In his dissertation (Global cotton crisis and sustainable development, Augsburg 2005, Tellus-Facta), that can be ordered from the ESC, Dr. Haider examines in a first step the effects of conventional cotton agriculture in Tansania. In a second step he presents effects on sustainability caused by the agriculture of organic cotton, based on empirial surveys. An introduction in the study gives a description of the global cotton industry.

With the intend to transfer the theoretical studies into practice, Riyaz Haider founded the biosustain e.K. / biosustain limited (Augsburg/Dar-es-Salaam), the first spin-off of ESC. Biosustain deals with sustainably agricultured sesame, bee-wax and organic cotton from Tansania and resells it to German clients. The company supports ecological cultivation, receives products of about 660 farmers and has 10 employees in Tansania. The farmers receive for their products premium prices. On-the-spot support by biosustain and a change of experiences enables them to gain larger crops. This leads to an improvement of living conditions in the village community. The ESC supports the ambitions of biosustain e.K. and gives accompanying advice. Financially biosustain is supported by EPOPA (Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa), a project of the Swedish Ministery of foreign aid.

Dr. Riyaz Haider