The inaugural World Cotton Day was held at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva last week to showcase the significant global impact that cotton production has on economies of all types. The event also offered an opportunity for industry stakeholders to build relationships and address the types of challenges that cotton producers are facing on an international level.
“Cotton is more than just a fibre used to make clothes we all wear. It is more than just a source of edible oil,” said WTO Director-General Robert Azevêdo. “Cotton is a truly global commodity. It is grown in over 75 countries across five continents. In several least developed countries, cotton is central to job creation and economic stability. Just about everywhere humans live, cotton and its products are processed, transformed and traded.”
World Cotton Day was a collaborative effort between the WTO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Cotton Advisory Committee, as well as other groups and organizations. Speaking at one of the thematic sessions focusing on market and policy trends and the prospects for sustainability in the cotton sector, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu noted how valuable the commodity is for developing economies.
“Cotton represents so much more than just a commodity: It is a culture, a way of life, and a tradition that finds its roots at the heart of human civilization,” said Dongyu. “Cotton provides employment and income for some of the poorest or most remote rural areas in the world.”
Other thematic sessions featured discussions on trade, technology, and sustainability. Panels of industry experts presented information on the challenges related to market access barriers, as well as potential steps for addressing climate change issues. The event also showcased some of the latest technological innovations that will help balance the relationship between increasing automation in the industry and the need for employment in developing countries.