We Care





This model is designed to revive a sustainability programme for South African farmers, in the absence of funding to follow the previous Better Cotton (BC) model. Better Cotton cannot support smallholder or commercial sustainability practices in South Africa and therefore maintaining sustainable standards needs to be self-funded. Commercial farmers have in 2023 decided not to further contribute to the management of the Better Cotton programme due to the cost without any value-addition flowing back to the farmer.

Since Government funding is orientated at smallholder production it was decided to focus on a smallholder model to increase local uptake of smallholder cotton to find direct markets for farmers. This is also one of the focus areas of the Agricultural- and Agro-Processing Masterplan (AAMP), to increase cotton production to 20% of the national crop by 2030. Following sustainability practices and focusing on training and mentoring will help to reach this goal. Commercial production will be linked to the sustainable programme at a later stage.

The basic principles of the new model would include cleaner production principles, increases in yield that will lead to economic stability through job creation, measurable environmentally conscious practices, and fair trade for farmers. The principles will also align with South African laws and some of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nation. The labour laws in South Africa are strict in terms of regulation involving treating workers decently (decent work) and minimum wage. The focus of this model is rather based on fair trade and adding value to the farmer, whereas other programmes are based on adding value further along the value chain, post-ginning.


  1. The model must be transparent for funders, the industry role-players and any participant or the public.
  2. The programme must be financially sustainable and be able to continue in the long term; up to at least 10 years.
  3. It will focus on training (skills development of smallholders) and mentoring, and sustainability will form part of the learning material of the AgriSETA accredited programme.
  4. Farmers will comply with a revised programme, that will include industry (Cotton SA) specifications. These will include a Quality certificate with its requirements, awarded to the gin; and credits for a fibre quality course completed; Integrated Pest Management principles applicable to GMO cotton; including principles of regenerative agriculture.
  5. Farmers will be audited annually.
    6. The model is based on a fair income for the smallholder so that the farmer (via SPFU, or Co-operative arrangements) will receive an additional benefit. This would include an income for not only seed cotton but lint quality and the value that can be captured in the pipeline by traders or retailers, as well as a portion of the value of the fuzzy seed.
  6. The local production of sustainable lint and yarn will support the demand created by retailers, their investors, and consumers.
  7. To sustain the programme in the long-term, there must be a buy-in from ginners/management of each ginnery to honour the guidelines mentioned under point 6, by giving a portion of the income of the fuzzy seed to the programme, to provide services to the farmers. The farmer will then sustain the programme by paying indirectly for the sustainable programme/services.
  8. Once the programme is off the ground, an attempt will be made to benchmark it against other sustainability programmes, to obtain further accreditation, depending on whether funding is available to do so.


  1. Access to funding via banks and other private sector funders would be easier for smallholders and commercial farmers in the long run, if proven compliance to the sustainability programme can be provided.
  2. Farming better, being more conscious of sustainability, and achieving a higher income based on fair trade and production increases.
  3. Addressing economic growth.
  4. Promote working together in the industry.
  5. Increase access to local markets and abroad. From Farm, to Fashion, to local – to Foreign!
  6. Moving away from grant funding and becoming sustainable farmers.
  7. Through clear communication the cotton produced will be creditable, traceable (shared access to information) and marketable (acceptable quality).


  1. Be proudly South African to support a South African-designed programme for South African farmers, supported by the South Africa Cotton Mark.
  2. Publicity in media: website, agricultural magazines, Cotton SA magazine etc.
  3. Bi-annual reports on the progress of the programme
  4. Access to all information and in-depth knowledge of the programme activities and cotton produced.

What is needed: Funding is sourced for 3 years, at approximately R1 million per annum, which includes the costs and the value captured on the lint, that are paid back to the farmer. The programme is currently in development.

Further information can be obtained from Cotton SA.