Fairtrade Foundation, United Kingdom, U.K., Africa, Mali, fair trade, cotton, organic cotton, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style


The current system of agricultural subsidies isn’t right, least of all fair, according to The Great Cotton Stitch-Up, a new report by the Fairtrade Foundation on the perniciousness of doling out free cash to first-world farmers at the expense of the world’s poorest growers.

Cotton-growing nations in West Africa lose $250 million in income because of the price-dampening effect of subsidies.

Together, the United States and European Union bestowed roughly $31.45 billion over the past nine years on their cotton farmers. By artificially depressing the global price of cotton, industrialized nations make it nearly impossible for West African farmers to cover their living costs, let alone lift themselves from poverty.

Cotton-growing nations in West Africa lose approximately $250 million in income because of the price-dampening effect of subsidies, the report notes, before quoting Michael Nkonu, director of Fairtrade Africa. “The global trade system works against the interests of the world’s poorest farmers,” Nikonu says. “Cotton is cheaper to produce from West Africa than anywhere else. But subsidies from rich power blocks stop West African farmers getting a fair price. It is a situation that needs to change and the time for change is now.”

+ The Great Cotton Stitch-Up (PDF)

+ Fairtrade Foundation