Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

World Cotton Day 2022

Statement 

By

Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General,

7 October 2022

 

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

1.         I am pleased to launch today the first celebration of World Cotton Day,

2.         Following the UN General Assembly Resolution in August 2021 proclaiming 7 October of every year as World Cotton Day.

3.         This is a clear recognition of the important role that cotton plays in socio-economic development, and progress of humanity.

4.         I wish to thank and congratulate the Cotton-4 (C-4) countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, for their efforts and initiative to establish a World Cotton Day.

5.         Cotton has always been at the heart of human civilization.

6.         Traces of cotton dating back thousands of years have been found in many regions around the world, from Mexico to the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, to the Nile Valley in Egypt.

7.         And when cotton was first spun by machinery in England in 1730, it contributed to the rise of the industrial revolution, powering a massive increase in global well-being.

8.         Today, cotton and its various uses in textiles, clothing, energy, food and feed, and for medical care, remains an important contributor to global economic and social development.

9.         The global cotton industry benefits over 100 million families, generating over 50 billion US Dollars in production value annually, and over 20 billion US Dollars in international trade.

10.       This refers to raw material trade, without value added trade which would increase this number tenfold.

11.       Cotton is an important cash crop, and it provides income and jobs in a number of economic sectors.

12.       A single tonne of cotton provides, on average, year-round employment for 5 people - often in some of the poorest regions.

13.       It is a means of livelihood that sustains millions of smallholders and their communities, securing their food security and nutritional requirements.

14.       Food products such as edible oil and animal feed from seeds can also be derived from cotton.

15.       It represents an important source of export earnings for some of the world’s low-income, as well as middle and middle-high income, countries.

16.       For example, in the C-4 countries, cotton exports represent 32% of total agricultural export revenues, and 7% of total merchandise trade.

17.       Cotton is a productive crop. It occupies just over 2% of global arable land, yet it is estimated to meet over 25% of the world’s textile needs.

18.       However, despite impressive progress over the years, cotton faces a number of challenges for farmers, such as limited access to technologies, insufficient support services, lack of investments and depleted natural resources, especially as it is a water intensive crop.

Dear Colleagues,

19.       It is critical that the cotton sector be sustainable at every stage of the value chain.

20.       We need to do things differently, through innovative approaches to enhance the contribution of cotton to human well-being.

21.       The rising prices of food, feed, fertilizer and fuel, and the tightening of financial conditions are increasing human suffering across the world.

22.       We are in a food access crisis, and could be facing a food availability crisis next season, if no appropriate action is taken.

23.       We are only 7 years away from the deadline to achieve the vision of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

24.       We must take bold action, now.

25.       Cotton can and must play an important role in achieving our development objectives.

26.       Our focus should be on transforming the cotton sector to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable.

27.       This transformation requires overcoming agronomic limits to boost cotton yields, while at the same time improving the use of our natural resources.

28.       The cotton sector must change in an efficient and effective way to compete with synthetic fibres, including by improving the cotton fibre.

29.       We must transform these challenges into opportunities.

30.       We must make use of innovative technologies and resources and target them to those who need them most.

31.       We need to boost responsible investment.

32.       We need coherent and inclusive policies, and effective coordination among the various segments of the value chain to accelerate transformation and make it broad-based.

33.       We also need to make every effort to avoid trade-distorting measures and improve market access for cotton products, particularly from Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

34.       Let’s work together to transform the cotton sector first for better production, then for better nutrition – such as for example the cultivation of mushrooms from cotton stem and seeds,

35.       And then for a better environment by using sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming practices, including transgenic cotton.

36.       And a better life for all, leaving no one behind.

37.       This is the vision of World Cotton Day!

38.       Thank you.

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