Cotton is the most important crop in the world’s textile industry, and has history as the globe’s oldest commercial crop.

Woman Sewing Fairtrade CottonCountries in Africa and Central and West Asia rely on cotton as a major export. In Burkina Faso, for instance, it accounts for almost 60% of export revenues.

Life is hard for cotton farmers in developing countries, such as China and India. Up to 100 million households are directly involved in cotton production, and 300 million people work in the sector - from farm laborers, to ginners, to truck drivers.

Cotton farmers face many challenges, including the impacts of climate change, low selling prices for seed cotton and competition from highly subsidized cotton grown in developed countries like the United States.

Fairtrade standards for cotton were developed in order to highlight the struggles that these farmers face. Through the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium mechanisms, we work together with cotton producers to develop more resilient and democratic organizations that benefit from greater income stability.

For consumers, this means the ability to better make ethical clothing choices.

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Case Studies