World Cotton Day 2021 ‘Cotton for Good’

Dr. Md. Gazi Golam Mortuza:The United Nations has announced that it will approve designating 7 October of each year as World Cotton Day on its permanent calendar. First launched in 2019 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, World Cotton Day continues to grow each year.

This year, 7th October 2021, World Cotton Day is observed to celebrate the global importance of cotton. One of the most important aspects of world cotton day is that it’s unique to every country and culture. World Cotton Day is a Celebration of cotton and an opportunity to show its enduring positive impact. The global community is invited to join in celebrating the world’s most important natural fiber. World Cotton Day is very important, because- it’s a poverty-alleviating crop in some of the least developed countries in the world, providing sustainable and decent employment to people across the globe. It biodegrades quickly compared with synthetic alternatives, decreasing the amount of plastics entering our waterways and helping to keep our oceans clean. It’s the only agricultural commodity that provides both fiber and food. As a crop that grows in arid climates, it thrives in places no other crop can.  Stakeholders from the global cotton community will come together on the many advantages of cotton from its qualities as a natural fibre. People benefit from its production, transformation, trade and consumption around the World. World Cotton Day is an opportunity to show the positive impact on cotton. It will continue to have in the future and convince the international community to join the celebration.

The theme for World Cotton Day 2021 is ‘Cotton for Good’. Highlighting benefits such as poverty alleviation, keeping plastic pollution out of the environment, women’s empowerment and cotton’s negative carbon footprint, this is a tribute to the many wonderful things cotton brings to our lives on a daily basis.

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) co-established the global day in 2019 alongside four other organisations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as a formal recognition of the countless benefits that cotton brings to communities worldwide. World Cotton Day provides cotton organisations, advocacy groups, investors and beneficiaries a platform to educate peers and consumers on the positive impact that cotton can have on transforming consumption, production, development and trade. For the first time aiming to celebrate the benefits of cotton, World Trade Organization (WTO) hosted the World Cotton Day (WCD) in Geneva on October 07, 2019 ranging from its qualities as a natural fiber to the people obtaining from its production, transformation, trade and consumption.

Cotton is widely grown and an important cash crop in the world as well as Bangladesh. Cotton is a soft and fluffy staple fiber. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Cotton is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of more than seventy countries of the world, on 33-35 million hectares in each year, which represents 2.5% of the all cultivated land. More than 100 million families are directly involved in cotton production and produce 25-26 million ton of raw cotton, where average lint production is about 800 kg per hectare. Cotton, unique among agricultural crops, provides food and fibre. Cotton is the major textile fibre used by man in the world and plays a key role in economic and social welfare.
It is grown primarily as a fibre crop, but after the lint, the long twisted unicellular hairs are removed by ginning, the seed can be crushed to extract vegetable oil and protein rich animal food. More than 100 countries are involved in export and import of raw cotton. It provides food, animal feed, fibre and fuel. It sustained millions of people for their livelihood at farms, ginning factories, textile mills, edible oil and soap industry etc.
More than 50 million tons of cottonseed is produced every year in the world. Cottonseed is an important source of oil seed. It can be used as feed for livestock or fish. Cottonseed can be crushed in an oil mill to get oil, hulls, meal and linters.
The finest cotton fabric- Moslin once produced in medieval Bengal was famous throughout the world. The cotton for producing Moslin was grown on high lands around Dhaka where most muslin handlooms were located.

Use of natural fibre is reducing day by day. For this reason, the year 2009 was assigned the international year of natural fibres by the UN. Natural fibre industries employ millions of people all over the world, especially in the developing countries. As the major non-food commodity natural fibres and their products are processed in many small and large industries and consumers all over the world profit from the provided products.

The objectives of the World Cotton Day 2021 are to use of natural fibres, the many uses of the versatile cotton plant, protecting the environment from plastic pollution, increase preference and demand for cotton and educate key audiences on the benefits and value of cotton,  to generate positive media coverage for cotton around the world, gain endorsements from government representatives of important cotton countries, to engage WTO and UN and have World Cotton Day added to official UN calendar,  to recruit brands and retailers to promote cotton in their stores or on their websites, to be self-funding and to  create events in multiple countries around the world celebrating World Cotton Day.
Through the world cotton day 2021, we want to reach every stakeholder who is the key audience such as producers, mills or manufacturers, brands or retailers, consumers, academicians, researchers, media personnel, NGOs and Government authorities. Producers increase production of cotton and influence planting choice, mills/manufacturers increase consumption of cotton and production of cotton goods, brands/retailers increase preference of cotton and influence sourcing decisions, last of all consumers increase demands and preference for cotton. Academicians educate on the benefits and the value of cotton to create positive perceptions, researchers encourage funding for research to promote continuous improvement and innovation in the cotton industry. Media dispel negative myths about cotton, NGOs educate and develop positive partnerships, and last but not least Government authorities support cotton friendly production and trade policies.

Cotton is produced all over the world and one single tonne of cotton provides almost one year-round employment for five people on average. Cotton crop is perfectly suited for regions with an arid climate. Overall, cotton occupies just 2.1 percent of the world’s arable land and yet meets 27 percent of the world’s textile sector. While cotton fibre is used in textiles and clothing apparel, food products like edible oil are obtained from cotton and its seed is used as animal feed.
Cotton is used by millions every single day across the world and the demand for cotton is expected to rise over the coming years. This hike in demand has increased the need for sustainable cotton. Ways to produce cotton while caring for the environment are at the forefront of conversations in the drive for sustainability. Conventional cotton production currently accounts for 18 percent of worldwide pesticide use and producers of cotton are being poisoned by heavy pesticide use. Sustainable cotton production is the solution to these issues. It reduces the use of hazardous chemicals, uses less water, and reduces poverty for cotton farmers.
Cotton provides food, feed, fibre and fuel. It contributes to food security by increasing the purchasable power of the farmers. It creates income and employment which has a significant impact on the economic and social aspect. Cotton plays a key role in the national economy of different countries that is why it is called White Gold for many countries of the world. Government and other policy makers should develop positive support to boost cotton production.

World Cotton Day, 2021 is an opportunity to show the positive impact on cotton, which will continue to have in the future and convince the international community to join the celebration. Cotton has a negative carbon footprint and degrades 95% more than polyester in wastewater helping to keep our land and water clean. So, World Cotton Day has an importance and significant role to all stakeholders.

Writer:Project Director, Expansion of Cotton Cultivation Project, Cotton Development Board, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.