Program of Brazil-FAO International Cooperation
©FAO/David Suárez


It is estimated that around 350 million people worldwide are engaged in economic activities related to cotton, one of the 20 most essential commodities in the world market in terms of value. 

In Latin America, cotton production is developed in many countries by family farmers. In the 2017/18 season, 13.4 million hectares were planted in the region, representing 17.7 million tonnes of fiber produced by small and large farmers (ICAC, 2020). 

According to information obtained by the Project +Cotton, in 2019, there were 131,500 cotton-producing farmers in the region, 77% of whom were family farmers. 

In the Latin American region, cotton has been grown for thousands of years. It is one of the most important crops globally, representing an essential item in millions of farming families' livelihoods through the generation of employment and income and contributing significantly to food security, especially in developing countries. 

To promote the sustainable development of the cotton value chain in the region, the Brazilian Government, through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ABC/MRE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and seven partner countries - Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Paraguay, and Peru - have joined forces to implement the +Cotton project. This Trilateral South-South Cooperation initiative, launched in 2013, has already invested more than USD 10 million in regional and country actions with financial resources from the Brazilian Cotton Institute (IBA) and technical and human resources from partner institutions, both in Brazil and in the partner countries. 

This Trilateral South-South Cooperation generates opportunities to exchange knowledge and experiences, encouragement for market access, promotion of technological innovations and agricultural management, in an agro-food systems perspective, where diversified production systems contribute to the nutritional and food security of cotton families in the most underdeveloped territories. In addition to be an opportunity for innovative business in the partner countries. 

To this end, +Cotton mobilizes a regional network of more than 90 public and private sector institutions, joining efforts to make the cotton value chain competitive, and position itself as a critical item in the region to promote better living conditions for farming families.

More cotton, more sustainability

The +Cotton project promotes sustainable and inclusive production systems from an integral view of the cotton value chain to encourage rural development by promoting value addition, fair trade, and boosting the agro-textile system.  

Diversity of strategic partners

In this international cooperation, various actors provide technical assistance to strengthen partner countries' cotton value chain. Government representatives, extension workers, researchers, academics, and representatives of farmers' unions and the textile sector: all are working together to boost not only cotton production but also to strengthen their knowledge, promote technological innovations and support the expansion of spaces for marketing the fiber and processed products, such as handicrafts, among other co-products of the family farming production system. 

The project generates analysis, good practices and studies, field visits; on-site and virtual training; delivery of inputs such as seeds; and new technologies adapted to cotton family agriculture such as machinery. 

Technological innovation plays a central role in the actions of Project +Cotton in partner countries. Examples include the use of drones in Ecuadormechanized harvesting in Peru, the Lazos platform for Technical Assistance and Rural Extension, and training in Paraguay, the cotton ginners in Paraguay and Ecuador, among others. Within the framework of the project, Embrapa Cotton developed a prototype machinery for family cotton farming.The machine was taken to Paraguay, in 2022, for field tests and demonstrations.

Through its actions, +Cotton seeks to contribute to food security; the eradication of rural poverty and hunger; the promotion of gender equality and the autonomy of women farmers; decent work; the recognition of indigenous peoples and their relationship with native cotton; and economic growth, responsible production, and consumption, goals that integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDA). 

Cotton women

The vital role played by rural cotton women is one of the project's cross-cutting themes, taking into account the many contributions these women make not only in cotton cultivation or animal husbandry but also in the processing, through craft and marketing activities, and in the food security of their families, with the food crops in the consortium. 

In addition to the gender approach, Project +Cotton has other important cross-cutting themes such as indigenous peoples, rural youth, and climate change because of their importance in rural development in the partner countries. 

Markets and value chains

The +Cotton project has developed various regional and in-country actions to promote the products and co-products of the "agro-textile system," based on field and commercial experiences. The aim is to expand marketing opportunities for cotton farmers and connect these farmers to sustainable markets, rescuing the intrinsic value of family farming, and making it possible to generate income. The actions seek to: manage the cotton system's supply to strengthen the value chains in the partner countries of the +Cotton by motivating, encouraging the participation of the private sector for the articulation of productive clusters. 

On the market issue, the project has supported the first blockchain pilot in Latin America, involving the cooperative of family farmers COSTACH, from Piura, Peru, and the company Creditext.

Actions in development: 

Tactical Shock Action Plan: Profiling businesses for sale: 

  • Commercial opportunities for fibers and seeds
  • Complementary yarns for spinning and weaving in the region. 

Tactical Design Action: Identifying the customer segment and business model: 

  • Workshop on the design of Latin American craft products
  • Niches for the colorful, certified, and sustainable cotton of family farming
  • Native Cotton Extracts for Cosmetics and Oleochemistry

Toolbox Sustainable markets: 

  • Price policy management, financial inclusion, and smallholder risk management.
  • Formulation of projects for economic revival (Prioritizing partnerships).
  • Strengthening Latin American Fibre Exports with Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPM).
  • Connectivity with purpose and business roundtables (ALADI, ICAC, Microsoft, and promotion agencies).

Conceptual axes of the Project + Cotton

Sustainable technologies: Promotion of sustainable and integrated crops based on strengthening the capacities of specialists, institutions, and producers. The objective is to promote profitable production systems, with less environmental impact, and rational use of soil, water and fertilizers, recovering biodiversity.

Strategic alliances: Creation of dialogue spaces for public and/or public-private partnerships, integrating various institutions in the construction of policies, programs, and actions to benefit family farming and cotton crops to recover the competitiveness of the sector and the sustainable development of the territories.

Social innovation: Promotion of the competitiveness of the sector and creation of capacities for women, men and youth, by means of information tools, resource management and strengthening of organizational models. It focuses on the promotion of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension (ATER) systems, improved, more inclusive and comprehensive and associative models among partner countries.

Inclusive markets: Promoting the development of markets that contribute to the increase of quality jobs and income in the cotton value chain, improving the food security of families. The work focuses on repositioning cotton in a differentiated way and with added value in local, regional and international markets, by way of good production and marketing practices, sustainability certifications, among others.

Main actions developed in the partner countries

  • Exchange, knowledge generation, and good production practices
  • Support for technological innovations - Smart Agro 2.0, use of drones.
  • Field days.
  • Demonstration plots for cotton crop trials and validation.
  • Training of rural youth.
  • Investment in seeds.
  • Training in pest control.
  • Technical Assistance and Rural Extension (ATER).
  • Access to markets.
  • Support for public policies.
  • Rescue of native cotton cultivation.

Project participants

  • National governments and local governments;
  • Farmers;
  • Researchers and extension agents;
  • Rural youth;
  • Indigenous people;
  • Associations and cooperatives;
  • Universities, agricultural schools and research centers;
  • National and Brazilian partners.

Cooperating Brazilian Institutions 

  • Brazilian Association of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Companies (ASBRAER).
  • Brazilian Association of Cotton Producers (ABRAPA).
  • Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA).
  • Empresa Paraibana de Investigación, Extensión Rural e Regularización de Tierras (EMPAER-PB).


Expected Results:

The public institutions of the partner countries are endowed with new capacities and levels of coordination strengthened and expanded (public and public/private) in order to support the development and general organization of the cotton chain; with emphasis on the cotton production systems of family farming; working to achieve the impact of "Contributing to the sustainable development of the cotton sector of the partner countries".

Guiding principles of Trilateral South-South Cooperation

  • Equality between the associates;
  • Mutual benefit;
  • No interference by cooperating countries in the affairs of other States;
  • Voluntariness and response to the priorities of developing countries.

+Cotton Project: Working for the sustainable development of Caribbean and Latin American cotton

Abstract: SSTC represents an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, generating innovation in terms of technology and management of the cotton sector in the countries involved in the +Cotton Project. Through the +Cotton Project, a regional network of more than 70 public and private sector actors have been mobilized in the partner countries, uniting efforts to make the cotton value chain competitive, and supporting family farmers’ access to markets, resulting in an increase in their quality of life and their livelihoods.

Lazos Iniciative

With a focus on social innovation and sustainable technology, the +Algodón project promoted the implementation of the Lazos Initiative, created to promote digital inclusion, the creation of virtual communities for the exchange of knowledge, good practices and key information for the management of knowledge focused on the rural population. Its main objective is to connect the entire Latin American cotton sector - cooperatives and union organizations, artisans, researchers, public institutions, projects/activities aimed at the development of the sector, textile industry and private companies linked to cotton - to promote dialogue and the exchange of information , good practices and experiences that allow the development of the cotton chain in the region.

World Cotton Day

In November 2019, the official launch of World Cotton Day was held in Geneva, Switzerland, a date created to celebrate the many advantages of cotton, from its qualities as a natural fiber to the benefits that people obtain from its production, processing, commerce and consumption. In August 2021, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed October 7 as World Cotton Day.

Year after year, since its launch, the +Cotton project has promoted events, social media campaigns and other communication materials with the aim of celebrating the date and taking advantage of the opportunity to position the Latin American cotton chain and share knowledge, exchange experiences and good practices. practices with the aim of reinforcing the importance of this value chain and contributing to its positioning in the region.

2019 – participation of the project in the launch event in Geneva and presentation of the documentary “Living culture, native cotton”.

2020 – project organizes the virtual event Together We Are More Cotton.

2021 – project organizes the virtual event World Cotton Day in Latin America and the Caribbean and the launch of the animation “Cotton: the fiber that unites us”.

2022 – hybrid event at the FAO headquarters in Rome, with the participation of the +Algodón project and launch of the documentary “Arhuaco Ancestral Cotton: Sacred cultivation from the heart of the world.”

2023 – project organizes the Latin American Cotton Week, in Brasilia, Brazil, with a series of activities, including the launch of the Latin America dresses in cotton collection and the launch of the video of the 10 years of the +Algodón project.

The actions of the +Algodón project have also been recognized on the UN website for World Cotton Day, where various materials produced by the project such as videos and publications are highlighted, an important achievement in terms of visibility for South-South cooperation. South between FAO and the government of Brazil on this issue.


The +Cotton Project has various digital and printed communication materials (distributed at events and regional meetings), photographic records, news, and dissemination on the social network Twitter. In this link, you can access the list of videos produced within the project in audiovisual resources.