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UNIDO’s project to pilot cotton sustainability drive in Egypt

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), under the framework of the Egyptian Cotton Project, has launched Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) pilot project in Egypt

The project focuses on supporting Cotton Egypt Association’s Egyptian cotton branding, as part of a renewed drive to increase product sustainability and improve conditions for the Egyptian cotton supply chain workers.

“The pilot project’s vision is to pilot the BCI standard system in Egypt, through a multi-stakeholder programme jointly coordinated by UNIDO, relevant governmental entities, farmers’ cooperatives, cotton-textile associations and local/international private sector stakeholders,” said a spokesman from the Egyptian Cotton Project.

“The partnership with UNIDO to support the BCI pilot project is one of several initiatives we will be exploring in 2019, as we continue to bring the brand and the values of the world’s finest cotton to meet the expectations of a modern consumer,” said Khaled Schuman, executive director of the association.

The BCI is one of the largest cotton sustainability programmes in the world, educating farmers and granting the BCI standard to those who meet rigorous levels of sustainable production and employee welfare.

Currently, the organisation licenses 1.3mn farms in 21 countries and aims to secure the sector’s future by bringing 30 per cent of global production up to BCI standard by 2020. The project will coordinate with a pool of stakeholders to implement the pilot BCI programme for Egyptian cotton, promoting the production of Egypt’s ‘White Gold’ in a way that cares for the environment and the farmers who grow it.

The sustainability drive is the latest move from Cotton Egypt Association to modernise and cement the Egyptian cotton brand as the world’s most luxurious cotton. It follows initiatives such as the recent introduction of a rigorous new accreditation process in partnership with Bureau Veritas, which uses DNA technology to root out counterfeit goods.

Consumer recognition of the brand remains high, a recent US survey showed that Egyptian cotton was also the name most people associated with quality and was prepared to pay a premium for, ahead of Pima cotton, Turkish cotton and Supima.