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World Cotton Day: Celebrating the Role of Cotton in Global Development
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World Cotton Day: Celebrating the Role of Cotton in Global Development


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting every year “World Cotton Day”, to draw attention to the natural fibre's contribution to socio-economic development, especially in low-income and emerging countries.

The Social and Economic Importance of Cotton

The social and economic importance of cotton was recognized by FAO’s General Assembly in August 2021, when it proclaimed 7th October of each year as “World Cotton Day”.

Used daily in clothing and home furnishings world since ancient times, cotton supports the economies of many low-income and emerging countries and represents an important source of their export revenues.

World Cotton Day, the role of cotton in global development

According to  OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, last year it contributed about $50 billion to their economic support – and $20 billion in global trade. An estimated 100 million family farmers across 80 countries directly depend on the cotton industry, in which women play a key role. 

Besides playing a significant role in social and economic development, international trade, and poverty alleviation, cotton also contributes to the United Nations (UN)’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a plan of action for “people, planet and prosperity”.

Supporting the Cotton Industry

For all these reasons, “World Cotton Day”  is a great opportunity to  create awareness about the need to facilitate market access for cotton and cotton-related products from least developed countries, foster sustainable trade policies and enable developing countries to benefit more from every step of the cotton value chain.

Greater investments are needed to expand the sector beyond raw cotton production and create new income opportunities, especially for farmers, by adding more value to cotton fibre and developing by-products from other parts of the cotton plant.

UN agencies have worked years towards this mission. FAO has long offered developing countries technical and policy support for boosting productivity and creating more opportunities in the cotton value chain. A concrete example is the +Cotton project, a cooperation initiative with Brazil (one of the industry leaders) aimed at helping Latin American producers to introduce innovative farming methods.

Another initiative worth mentioning is the Cotton Initiative, that was launched by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to help the Cotton-4 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) to optimize production and improve local processing capacity, as well as to discuss the trade reforms needed to address high trade barriers and inequalities for cotton producers in developing countries. 

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