Mali is the second largest cotton producer in Africa contributing 8 percent to the GDP, and 25 percent to the total export value. Nearly forty percent of the rural population in Mali is dependent on cotton production, covering 200,000 farms. A main source of income, growing cotton is linked closely to access to education and health care. The cotton industry provides livelihoods for 4 million people – balancing rural migration by creating local jobs for the local population.
In 2014, the Fast Track Fund invested 580,000 Euro (10% of the fund value) in 2 projects. 34,000 MT lint of Better Cotton was produced, across an area of 80,000 hectares and 29,000 farmers were licensed to produce Better Cotton (56% of the total farmers trained in the Better Cotton production principles). All farmers sell their cotton to the state-owned company – CMDT or Compagnie Malienne pour le Development du Textile who link the producers to the market through the value chain including input subsidies, ginning, marketing and facilitating export of the cotton. For this reason, the Better Cotton projects were designed at the very onset to work with CMDT as the Implementation Partner – in 2014, 18,000 MT lint of the total Better Cotton production was taken up by the CMDT (gin uptake). In the first year of CMDT becoming an independent implementing partner, BCI has been engaging closely with CMDT to institutionalize the Better Cotton standard into the existing structure