FAO and Brazilian Government Celebrate Latin American Cotton Production, Fashion, Research, and Public Policies for the Cotton Chain

October 13, 2023

World Cotton Day was marked by several activities in Brazil

Brasilia, October 10, 2023 -Over the course of three days, representatives from the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru, as well as from the cotton sector, the textile industry, and artisans, participated in the celebrations of the World Cotton Day 2023. The Cotton Week in Latin America took place from October 4th to 6th in Brasília, capital of Brazil.

This series of events was jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ABC/MRE), in the framework of the South-South +Cotton cooperation project, which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary.

Ministerial Dialogue on the Cotton Sector

On October 4th, a ministerial forum discussed public policies and the competitiveness of the regional cotton sector. At the opening, Marcelo González Ferreira, Paraguay’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), highlighted the significant achievements of the +Cotton project in his country, highlighted the important achievements made under the +Cotton project in that country, including the commercial certification of cotton seed varieties. He also mentioned that the Paraguayan Chaco region is resuming cotton production, aiming for 50,000 hectares of cotton and with great potential for development.

Carolina Salles, project analyst at ABC, emphasized that the Brazilian cooperation program for the cotton chain has helped to increase the sector’s visibility on the international level. She also pointed out that the cotton industry plays an important role in the economies of Latin American countries, particularly regarding family farming.

For FAO’s representative in Brazil, Rafael Zavala, the World Cotton Day demonstrates the relevance of the fiber as a commodity, but also for its connection with culture, and the history of many countries, especially those in Latin America. He also said that cotton plays an important role both for the textile industry and for food security in the lives of thousands of rural families.

During the forum, government representatives from the participating countries presented the initiatives, programs and policies being implemented within the cotton sector, including the Plurinational State of Bolivia, which highlighted its National Cotton Program, launched in 2022 and still under full implementation.

Cotton, fashion, ancestrally

On the same day, the celebrations then proceeded to the Republic National Museum, which brought together more than 200 people, including government officials from guest countries, members of international organizations, embassies, textile industry professionals and art students.

The talk-show “Trends in Fashion and Materiality in Latin America” featured Colombian fashion designer Juan Pablo Martinez; the Director of Institutional Relations for the Brazilian Association of Cotton Producers (Abrapa), Silmara Ferraresi; Marco Aurélio Lobo, a professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo (USP); fashion designer Ronaldo Silvestre; and Fabíola Silvério, a representative of the Instituto Lojas Renner. The moderation was carried out by Graça Cabral, from the INMOD institute.

Afterwards, visitors enjoyed the launch of the “Latin America wears cotton” collection, which featured 30 outfits produced entirely out of cotton from family farming and embroidered by rural artisans from Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, all supported by the +Cotton project.

The artisans played a central role throughout the fashion show, which sought not only to highlight the handmade process of cotton artisanry, which involves growing the fiber, harvesting, spinning, weaving, and embroidering, as well as the work of rural women artisans, who preserve ancestral traditions. “It was an extraordinary experience to see the Ao Po’i clothes embroidered by artisans from my community Yataity, featured in the fashion show that exalts the work of these women artisans,” said Carolina Giménez, a Paraguayan artisan.

The Collection was designed by Juan Pablo Martinez, while the Brazilian garments were styled by Ronaldo Silvestri, and the Fashion Show Curatorship was the responsibility of Paulo Borges, founder, and creative member of the São Paulo Fashion Week.

That evening, a projection on the Museum’s dome displayed images and messages that highlighted the importance of the sector in generating jobs and income.

For the coordinator of the +Cotton project, Adriana Gregolin, the event confirmed the excellence of Latin American cotton and the strength of the art and identity of handicrafts made from its raw material. “For both FAO and ABC, this was the best way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of +Cotton’s international cooperation,” she said.

Cotton Regional Forum

On October 5, a delegation from Brazil and other countries took part in the 5th meeting of the Cotton Regional Forum at Abrapa’s headquarters, where they discussed regenerative agriculture and the contribution of cotton’s production chain in mitigating the effects of climate change, since it is also a fiber that adapts through its diverse productive systems. The quality standards of Brazilian cotton and the best practices in cotton traceability were also mentioned during the presentation on the Program Standard Brasil HVI (SBRHVI). The delegation also visited the Brazilian Cotton Analysis Center, an important institution for all countries. The Regional Forum is fostered by the cooperation of a network of associations from the cotton sector in Latin American countries, created in 2020, to share experiences and find solutions to the challenges faced by the sector.

Following the event, national representatives signed the Brasilia Declaration, an invitation for cooperation in areas such as access to new markets, certification, better production and tackling climate change, highlighting the urgent need for each country to take actions focused on sustainability, according to their own realities.

On October 6, a regional seminar encouraged dialogue over the challenges and opportunities for making quality seeds available to the Latin American cotton sector. Its final recommendations included maintaining partnership through cooperation and knowledge exchange; sharing seed germplasm, researching its suitability for each country; producing new varieties to improve the fiber’s quality and production’s profitability; and encouraging the establishment of germplasm banks for family farming.

World Cotton Day at the Brazilian Senate

The celebrations of World Cotton Day 2023 concluded during a special session in the Brazilian Senate chaired by Senator Izalci Lucas, who underlined the relevance of cotton to the global economy: “It’s the world’s most-used natural fiber”. Márcio Portocarrero, executive director of ABRAPA, said that this year Brazil produced 13 million tons of lint, placing the country at the top of the ranking of cotton exports.

FAO’s representative in Brazil, Rafael Zavala, pointed out that around 350 million people worldwide are engaged in cotton-related economic activities. “We still face a number of economic, social and technological challenges in order to boost our regional cotton chain, but through cooperation between friendly nations, we can continue to move forward.”

Minister Andreia Rigueira, speaking on behalf of ABC, said that with a broad portfolio of projects that encompass the Brazilian cooperation program to empower the sector in developing countries, “we have achieved important results, increasing cotton’s international visibility”.

Aristeu Chaves, president of Empaer-PB, mentioned cotton’s role in creating jobs, in making fashion more sustainable and in producing food through diversified production systems. Alderi Araújo, executive director of governance and management at Embrapa, talked about the production of colored, agroecological and organic cotton in northeastern Brazil.

World Cotton Day, endorsed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2021 and celebrated on October 7, seeks to increase recognition of the cotton sector and its role in economic development, in international trade, in social inclusion and in poverty reduction, especially for family cotton farming from developing countries

Originally posted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). To access the original article, please click here.