Monitoring the scope and benefits of Fairtrade: Cotton - Monitoring report, 10th Edition

Published: 3 Mar 2020


Cotton farmers in developing countries wield little power or influence. With high levels of illiteracy and limited land holdings, many cotton farmers live below the poverty line and depend on the middlemen or ginners who buy their cotton, often at prices below the cost of production. Rising costs of production, fluctuating market prices, falling yields and climate change pose daily challenges, along with food price inflation and food insecurity.

The Fairtrade Cotton Standard was launched more than a decade ago to benefit the farmers at the end of a long and complex supply chain. Over this period, we have succeeded in raising awareness of the problems faced by cotton farmers, empowering and training producers to comply with the Fairtrade Standards and attracted more and more companies in the textile sector to source Fairtrade cotton.

Sales of Fairtrade certified cotton are on the rise, increasing by 39 percent during 2016 to 2017. The number of Fairtrade certified cotton producer organizations -- the majority of which are in India -- has remained stable over the years, encompassing more than 45,000 farmers across eight producing countries.

Both the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the Fairtrade Premium for cotton, as well as targeted support and training for producers, are aimed at helping producer organizations to become stronger and more resilient businesses. Fairtrade cotton producers earned more than €1 million in Fairtrade Premium funds in 2017 to invest in projects of their choice.