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Countries of origin/projects

The organic cotton Cotonea uses originates from its own partner projects in Kyrgyzstan and Uganda, from regions of cultivation with enough rain. Cotton plants require a lot of water to flourish.

Organic cotton means:

  • Organic crop protection instead of the use of chemical pesticides
  • Natural fertilizer instead of artificial fertilizer
  • Not diminishing the nutrition of the soil through the cultivation of monocultures. By rotating crops the fruitfulness of the soil is secured and improved in the long-term
  • Protection of valuable groundwater
  • No gene manipulated varieties
  • The yield per hectare for many farmers is higher than in conventional cultivation

Cotonea has committed itself to cotton cultivation in Uganda and, in close cooperation with the Swiss relief organization Helvetas, in Kyrgyzstan. Cotonea can impart more than 150 years of experience to the farmers so that they can continually improve quality and deliver especially pure organic cotton. Through a contract of guaranteed purchase, Cotonea gives the farmers financial security and strengthens their self-confidence. Cotonea is in direct contact with the cotton producers and has people they trust in the region. Cotonea knows its suppliers and does not, in contrast to many large brands, have to rely on questionable certificates. Cotonea itself has the control over the quality and purity of its cotton.

Uganda

  • Ugandans are proud and smart clothing is important. These women are wearing their most beautiful dresses. They live in the north near Gulu with their families and work for Cotonea. Altogether many 10.000 people are living off of this project.

    Ugandans are proud and smart clothing is important. These women are wearing their most beautiful dresses. They live in the north near Gulu with their families and work for Cotonea. Altogether many 10.000 people are living off of this project.

  • This region was plagued with a bloody civil war for 20 years. Only in the middle of 2010 were the last refugee camps closed and the people returned to their villages. In many cases essential things – like agricultural knowledge – were lost.

    This region was plagued with a bloody civil war for 20 years. Only in the middle of 2010 were the last refugee camps closed and the people returned to their villages. In many cases essential things – like agricultural knowledge – were lost.

  • Despite the civil war old farmers still existed who knew ecological cultivation like the back of their hand. On the fields of the Cotonea organic cotton project today there are strong healthy cotton plants which bring a good harvest.

    Despite the civil war old farmers still existed who knew ecological cultivation like the back of their hand. On the fields of the Cotonea organic cotton project today there are strong healthy cotton plants which bring a good harvest.

  • This young helper carries her harvest to the collection point. She transports the fluffy cotton fibres as women in Africa transport nearly everything: on her head.

    This young helper carries her harvest to the collection point. She transports the fluffy cotton fibres as women in Africa transport nearly everything: on her head.

  • Good money for good work. The picked quantity is weighed and documented, the wages are handed over in cash and a receipt is given. Many banknotes change hands every day as 1000 Ugandan shillings are only worth 30 eurocents.

    Good money for good work. The picked quantity is weighed and documented, the wages are handed over in cash and a receipt is given. Many banknotes change hands every day as 1000 Ugandan shillings are only worth 30 eurocents.

  • A breather in the cotton fluff. The warehouse is nearly filled to the roof; the cotton harvest is practically complete. After the hard physical labour all are tired but content.

    A breather in the cotton fluff. The warehouse is nearly filled to the roof; the cotton harvest is practically complete. After the hard physical labour all are tired but content.

  • Bookkeeping in Uganda: everything gets carefully noted in a thick notebook. How large was the yield? How much money was paid out? Exactly how much can Cotonea use? Everyone knows the value of their work at the end of the day.

    Bookkeeping in Uganda: everything gets carefully noted in a thick notebook. How large was the yield? How much money was paid out? Exactly how much can Cotonea use? Everyone knows the value of their work at the end of the day.

  • The drive belts of the old, robust and now rare Roller-Gin are being changed. Here, where people repair everything themselves this is child’s play for the workers. And who knows – perhaps they even constructed the drive belts themselves...

    The drive belts of the old, robust and now rare Roller-Gin are being changed. Here, where people repair everything themselves this is child’s play for the workers. And who knows – perhaps they even constructed the drive belts themselves...

  • The farmers in this project take their right of participation very seriously. After a gospel song and a pray the negotiations begin. Each person can express their wishes and concerns.

    The farmers in this project take their right of participation very seriously. After a gospel song and a pray the negotiations begin. Each person can express their wishes and concerns.

  • Children are the pride and joy of Ugandan parents. Eight, like here, but also ten or twelve aren’t rare. Pride is also taken in their new hut that is clad in clay bricks.

    Children are the pride and joy of Ugandan parents. Eight, like here, but also ten or twelve aren’t rare. Pride is also taken in their new hut that is clad in clay bricks.

  • Break time in the shadow of the straw roof. Peaceful quiet in the searing sun. But the impression of drought is deceptive. Uganda is green, rain falls over the whole year, especially during the rainy season and less so from September to February.

    Break time in the shadow of the straw roof. Peaceful quiet in the searing sun. But the impression of drought is deceptive. Uganda is green, rain falls over the whole year, especially during the rainy season and less so from September to February.

  • Cooking, eating, sleeping – all in the same room for which its inhabitants need it desperately. The room gets swept several times a day, cleanliness is of utmost importance. Yet most things happens outside: The whole year over during the day the temperature lies between 25 and 28 degrees.

    Cooking, eating, sleeping – all in the same room for which its inhabitants need it desperately. The room gets swept several times a day, cleanliness is of utmost importance. Yet most things happens outside: The whole year over during the day the temperature lies between 25 and 28 degrees.

Civil war till 2006. Today 10,000 people live off organic cotton grown for Cotonea.

Cotonea organic cotton is grown in Kyrgyzstan and Uganda under certified organic conditions. Monocultures are avoided and a rotation of crops maintained. In this way the soil isn´t leached of its nutrients, in fact the soil becomes more fertile through the organic cultivation. Cotonea abstains from the use of chemical treatment of the fields (fertiliser or pesticides). The cotton is picked by hand to achieve a higher quality. Neither poisonous cotton defoliators nor machine harvesting are used.

In the northwest of Uganda on the fields which have lain vacant for decades due to the war, organic cotton has been cultivated again recently. While relief organisations like the GTZ retracted their support for the project for political reasons, Cotonea is helping as a key partner to give people a new perspective. The land is fertile and naturally watered by rain. Near the equator several yields can be achieved during the year. Cotton serves to make money. The farmers mainly use this money for healthcare and the education of their children.

Experienced farmers achieve high returns. The many young farmers who were not able to learn about agriculture must first be trained. While every year in conventional cotton farming in Africa innumerable people die of pesticide poisoning, the organic cultivation of cotton allows for the fruitfulness of the soil and the purity of the important groundwater to be sustained by natural means. The local project society knows many natural ways to perform pest control, from complementary crops and the use of water fermented with the aid of leaves to the breeding of beneficial insects like wasps. What is increasing is that the farmers are provided with natural seeds and the seed varieties are specifically being maintained and further developed. Every single field is carefully monitored and all measures taken end up in a report. The observance of all ecological guidelines is monitored by an independent certification body.

Kyrgyzstan

  • In Kyrgyzstan (correctly called the „Republic of Kyrgyzstan”) the cotton is also picked by hand. Since the change to certified organic cotton in 2005 the entire cotton crop of the swiss relief organisation Helvetas goes to Cotonea.

    In Kyrgyzstan (correctly called the „Republic of Kyrgyzstan”) the cotton is also picked by hand. Since the change to certified organic cotton in 2005 the entire cotton crop of the swiss relief organisation Helvetas goes to Cotonea.

  • Fertile soil in barren, rugged countryside combined with clever and good work lead to a rich harvest. This is something this helper experiences first hand. She lives off of the cotton – and for it. It offers her a reliable income.

    Fertile soil in barren, rugged countryside combined with clever and good work lead to a rich harvest. This is something this helper experiences first hand. She lives off of the cotton – and for it. It offers her a reliable income.

  • A flying visit to the farmer and his wife with the highest yield. If you ask him how he managed it, he answers humbly and happily that he just did everything the project manager taught him to do.

    A flying visit to the farmer and his wife with the highest yield. If you ask him how he managed it, he answers humbly and happily that he just did everything the project manager taught him to do.

  • The day’s work is done - tired and contented the harvest helpers go back to their village. Machines, fuel and artificial fertiliser are in short supply in Kyrgyzstan. The organic cotton farmers produce their own (organic!) fertiliser.

    The day’s work is done - tired and contented the harvest helpers go back to their village. Machines, fuel and artificial fertiliser are in short supply in Kyrgyzstan. The organic cotton farmers produce their own (organic!) fertiliser.

  • On the ground next to the cotton field, the helpers are waiting for the transport of their days yield. Even for the work in the fields they wear their nicest clothes. This is no work for men.

    On the ground next to the cotton field, the helpers are waiting for the transport of their days yield. Even for the work in the fields they wear their nicest clothes. This is no work for men.

  • A handsome, healthy horse secures modest wealth. It is a means of transport that can be fuelled from products of one’s own cultivation. That is good because gasoline is precious.

    A handsome, healthy horse secures modest wealth. It is a means of transport that can be fuelled from products of one’s own cultivation. That is good because gasoline is precious.

  • This collection point to which the baskets with the picked cotton is brought at dusk is simple, but tidy and clean. The men drink tea, the women work. Nobody would think of resenting this state of affairs.

    This collection point to which the baskets with the picked cotton is brought at dusk is simple, but tidy and clean. The men drink tea, the women work. Nobody would think of resenting this state of affairs.

  • During the harvest a bed is set up in the storehouse to ensure that nothing is stolen.

    During the harvest a bed is set up in the storehouse to ensure that nothing is stolen.

  • A good view is not as important as well used space and so the cotton fibres are stuffed into the car and it´s boot without wrapping them in a sack or cloth. Every cubic centimetre is filled, hopefully the driver is skilled.

    A good view is not as important as well used space and so the cotton fibres are stuffed into the car and it´s boot without wrapping them in a sack or cloth. Every cubic centimetre is filled, hopefully the driver is skilled.

  • The conveyor belt of the Saw Gin, i.e. the cotton gin, has stopped heaping up the white gold for the day. An evening, a nights rest, before it starts up again the next day.

    The conveyor belt of the Saw Gin, i.e. the cotton gin, has stopped heaping up the white gold for the day. An evening, a nights rest, before it starts up again the next day.

  • In front of her yurt this farmer has a simple stall, a metal table with a simple table top. It contains a bottle with water, yogurt balls and boorsok, the traditional deep-fried pastries.

    In front of her yurt this farmer has a simple stall, a metal table with a simple table top. It contains a bottle with water, yogurt balls and boorsok, the traditional deep-fried pastries.

  • At the street just in front of Dschal-Abad where the Helvetas/Cotonea organic cotton project is situated. Again and again it comes to violent clashes in this region between the Kyrgyzstanis and the Uzbek minority.

    At the street just in front of Dschal-Abad where the Helvetas/Cotonea organic cotton project is situated. Again and again it comes to violent clashes in this region between the Kyrgyzstanis and the Uzbek minority.

  • If you want to travel to Kyrgyzstan you must cross high mountain passes and drive through deep gorges. A part of the land is situated in the Tienshan, the “Heaven´s mountains” – breath-taking, steep and jagged.

    If you want to travel to Kyrgyzstan you must cross high mountain passes and drive through deep gorges. A part of the land is situated in the Tienshan, the “Heaven´s mountains” – breath-taking, steep and jagged.

Overexploitation during the Soviet-era, today organic cotton for Cotonea from the Helvetas project.

Cotonea organic cotton is grown in Kyrgyzstan and Uganda under certified organic conditions. Monocultures are avoided and a rotation of crops maintained. In this way the soil isn´t leached of its nutrients, in fact the soil becomes more fertile through the organic cultivation. Cotonea abstains from the use of chemical treatment of the fields (fertiliser or pesticides). The cotton is picked by hand to achieve a higher quality. Neither poisonous cotton defoliators nor machine harvesting are used.

In close cooperation with the swiss relief organization Helvetas Cotonea has strongly championed the cultivation of organic cotton in Kyrgyzstan. Through 150 years of experience in the processing of cotton Cotonea can hand on valuable knowledge to the Kyrgyzstan farmers who in turn can continually improve the delivered organic cotton in quality and purity.

Through a contract of guaranteed purchase Cotonea gives the farmers financial security and strengthens their self-confidence. Additionally we send sample products to Kyrgyzstan so that the farmers can better identify with the project and what is later produced and can be proud of their work.

A further advantage of this direct participation in the manufacturing process: Cotonea is in direct contact with the cotton producers and has people they trust in the region. Cotonea knows its suppliers and does not, in contrast to many large brands, have to rely on questionable certificates. Cotonea itself has the control over the quality and purity of its cotton.