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Sustainability of cotton production systems

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Presentation on theme: "Sustainability of cotton production systems"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sustainability of cotton production systems
Anne-Sophie Poisot, with Francesca Mancini, FAO

2 Cotton production Over 100 million cotton farm families across 75 countries, USD 51.4 billion annually in raw product. One of the most significant crops in terms of land use after food grains and soybeans. Cotton often one component of more complex farming system. Questions: What are the impacts of cotton production on natural resources, economic and social systems? How can we measure them? How to increase positive impacts and reduce negative impacts?

3 Sustainability Most widely accepted definition of sustainability in “Brundtland Report” (1987) “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” The Report “Our Common Future” of the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) published in 1987 “Needs and limitations” Three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic and social Agenda 21 Programme Areas + major international instruments

4 Key considerations Growing consumer and market interest on sustainability (Organic, Fair trade, Better Cotton Initiative, Cotton Made in Africa…) Many different initiatives/ways of promoting Will mean different things in different contexts Sustainability a moving target – seek improvements, not absolutes Defining issues, indicators and improvements require stakeholder dialogue


6 “Measuring Sustainability in Cotton Farming Systems…”
…“Towards a Guidance Framework” (FAO/ICAC 2014) : provides overview of sustainability issues recommends indicators to help industry assess and measure progress on critical sustainability issues Developed by ICAC SEEP (Expert Panel on the Social, Economic and Environmental Performance of Cotton Production) Discussed in Cartagena 2013

7 Key sustainability issues in cotton production systems
Environmental pillar 5 themes: Pest and Pesticide Management Water Management Soil Management Biodiversity/Land Use Climate Change Economic pillar 2 themes: Economic Viability, Poverty Reduction & Food Security Economic Risk Management. Social pillar 4 themes: Labor Rights and Standards Workers Health and Safety Equity and Gender Farmer Organization

8 Summary of key issues Stable global land use & increasing yields in major cotton producing regions (except in West /Southern Africa) suggest increased efficiency But remains an input-intensive commodity (energy, water, fertilizers, pesticides) New production practices/technologies offer real opportunities for improving environmental and social impacts Managing adoption of such innovations will require continued investment in research and farmer education

9 Pest and pesticide management
Pests a challenge for yield losses cotton production 11% of global pesticide use, 25% of global insecticide use and 50% of insecticide use across the developing world (Woodburn, 1999) Proportion of global insecticide sales for cotton declined from 18.4% of world sales in 2003 to 14.1% in 2009 (SEEP, 2012). Significant disparities in pesticide use exist across countries Significant proportion of pesticides used in cotton are Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), which, according to FAO/WHO criteria, should be considered for phasing out (aldicarb, chlorpyrifos, endosulfan, methamidofos, methomyl, monocrotofos, parathion-methyl, profenofos, zeta cypermethrin) (SEEP, 2010).

10 Pest and pesticide management (ctnd)
Environmental impacts : water contamination, poisoning of pollinators, fish, wildlife or livestock, biodiversity loss, long term persistence in soils, air pollution Impacts on pest management and crop production: production costs, pest resistance, secondary pest outbreaks Human exposure : acute poisoning (convulsions, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, death) or chronic illness (carcinogenic, genotoxic, reproductive or endocrine disruptive properties) Examples of indicators Quantity of active ingredients of pesticides and HHPs used (kg/ha) Number of pesticide applications per season Existence of an IPM plan

11 Soil Fertility depletion - challenge in both extensive cotton mono-culture and low input systems. Soil structure decline, depletion in soil organic matter, fertility loss, build up of soil borne pathogens and nematodes Soil contamination - residual concentrations of pesticides, and in particular endosulfan in cotton soils (Savadogo 2009, Tapsoba 2006) Erosion from water and wind Soil salinity- in irrigated cotton, acute in semi arid areas Examples of indicators Soil characteristics: organic matter content, pH, N, P, K Fertilizer used by type (kg/ha) % of area under soil erosion control and minimum/conservation tillage

12 Biodiversity and land use
Three levels of biodiversity : genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity (CBD1992) Main concerns with cotton production : Loss, degradation or fragmentation of ecosystems as a result of the establishment of large monocultures Suppression of ecosystem services caused by the excessive use of broadspectrum pesticides. Examples of indicators Total area (ha) and % of natural vegetation converted for cotton production (in ha) % of total farm area that is non-cropped

13 Climate change Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from cotton production to ginning (Source : Carbon Trust 2011) = global emissions of 220mt CO2e = 3.6% - 4.3% of global emissions from agriculture = 0.4% of overall emissions 4 to 12 tonnes of CO2e emitted/tonne of cotton lint, depending on regions (ibid) Decomposition and mineralisation Energy use Carbon stock

14 Labor Rights and Standards
Major differences in industrialized vs developing countries Child labor in cotton reported in at least 18 countries Examples (as opposed to acceptable children’s work on family farm): direct/indirect exposure to chemicals, use dangerous tools, working at night, long hours, heavy load Employment conditions – forced labor in cotton in at least 12 countries (2012) Freedom of association Social protection – scarcely available in developg countries Examples of indicators % of children completing appropriate level of school by gender number and % of workers subordinated by forced labor

15 2 recommendations from ICAC Cartagena 2013
Next steps 2 recommendations from ICAC Cartagena 2013 1) consider the indicators at a national level ; form committees in each country to create initial framework of indicators and keep them updated 2) consideration by appropriate national organizations to pilot testing the framework. Immediate next steps Project and workshops in Benin and Zambia 2015 (FAO/ GIZ) Projet “Africanisation des indicateurs de durabilité” 2015 (CIRAD/EU-ACP)


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