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 the conference  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.