Cotton, biodiversity and sustainable agriculture

Cotton is an indispensable fibre for the textile industry, product designers and consumers. But its production poses major challenges. Wageningen University & Research's Cotton Research Programme contributes to a healthier future for cotton cultivation on three fronts: improved quality, a smaller water footprint and a better living wage for the cotton farmer.

Major challenges for cotton farmers

The essential properties cotton has to offer does not alter the fact that major challenges are associated with its production. For example, cotton production is seriously threatened by climate change. At the same time, the cotton industry contributes to it. Cotton production uses a lot of water and pesticides, which leads to degradation of soils, surface water and biodiversity. Inadequate pre-treatment often means that the quality of the cotton is also an issue, resulting in higher processing costs. And finally, cotton farmers can barely earn a reasonable living wage.

Regional approach

We believe in a regional approach together with partnerships of farmers and the downward stream. On the one hand, we help cotton farmers to increase yields in volume and enhance fibre quality. At the other hand, we offer support to reduce the use of water, pesticides and fertilizers. In addition, we develop better and less aggressive treatment processes for ginning, scouring and bleaching of cotton. Better ginning results in less processing costs, which in turn leads to a better income for the cotton farmer. WUR also offers dialogue and traceability tools to assure that standards are met and improved across the value chain.

Climate resilience, better quality

In a number of regional projects, we are helping cotton farmers to make their businesses more resilient to climate change. We are doing this together with governments, NGOs and companies. One example is the project Climate resilient agri sourcing in Africa, which also focuses on cotton cultivation.

In various projects with stakeholders from the cotton industry, we work together on better pre-treatment and processing, which increases the quality of cotton and the farmer's income.

Working together

With our knowledge and expertise, we can play an important role in innovating cotton cultivation, making it more sustainable and improving the income position of farmers. Please feel free to contact us to discuss the possibilities of working together..