International Cotton Conference :From Farm to Fashion”
Cotton is an important natural fiber crop of world known as “white gold”. Livelihoods of millions of farmers is dependent on this crop, in addition to millions of people employed along the entire cotton value chain, from weaving to textile and garment exports. In the wake of this global phenomenon, it is still unclear that whether cotton production will be able to satisfy the future fiber needs of the growing population as Cotton represents nearly half the fiber used to make clothes and other textiles worldwide, with much of the rest coming synthetic products. However, evidently cotton yield is declining or stagnating as no new production technology is available for the producers and declining international cotton prices are worrying many and likely to affect negatively the whole cotton value chain, if translated in lower cotton production.
The International conference “From Farm to Fashion” was organized in Izmir, Turkey from 3-5 August 2015by LokSanjh Foundation (LSF) in collaboration with Rural Business Development Centre (RBDC) and was supported financially mainly by Oxfam Novib, Pakistan which is highly acknowledged. Many other institutions , such as, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Textile Exchange, UK, SESRIC, Turkey, Nazilli Cotton Research Institute, Turkey and Coventry University, UK also supported the conference as co-host of the event.
The objective of the conference was to bring together participants from cotton producing countries, academics and business people in processing and trading to highlight the innovation in cotton production, challenges of climate change, investment opportunities in cotton industry and business and new styles and trends that would shape the future of cotton industry.
The following were three main themes of the conference:
- Supply Side: Cotton Production Technologies and Sustainability Issues.
- Cotton Supply Chain and Trade
- Demand Side: Trends in fashion and demand for cotton, competition with synthetics etc.
In theconference over 100 people from various countries representing government, academia, farmers, policy makers, NGOs ,Research institutes and private sector Ginners, international garment and trading companies including major consuming countries participated . The major countries of South Asia, Central Asia, Africa and Europe who represented in the conference included: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Bosnia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Switzerland/USA, Germany, UK, Denmark.
The participants deliberated in seven different session for two days in which 28 presentations were made covering three major themes: (1) Cotton Production Technologies and Sustainability Issues; (2) Cotton Supply Chain and Trade ; (3) Trends in Fashion and demand for cotton, competition with synthetics. In addition , a field visit to Nazilli Cotton Research Institute was also arranged for the participants to learn from Turkish experience in cotton production and processing technologies.
The conference offered an opportunity for experts representing various countries and organizations to discuss openly on issues and future prospects and farmers welfare related to cotton production technologies, excessive use of chemical inputs, new seed varieties, environmental effects, trade, business and value addition.