Glossary

Aid for Trade: Assistance offered by the WTO to developing countries to assist with the adjustment to trade liberalisation and the utilisation of open markets, with the intention of stimulating economic growth and poverty reduction.

Agro-Ecological Agriculture: Agro-ecology is concerned with the maintenance of a productive agriculture that sustains yields and optimizes the use of local resources while minimizing the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern technologies.

Biodynamic Agriculture: Is the oldest consciously organic approach to farming and gardening. It is founded on a holistic and spiritual understanding of nature and the human being and builds on the pioneering research work of Rudolf Steiner.

Cash Crop: A crop grown for direct sale rather than subsistence crops which, for example, are grown for home consumption and to feed livestock.

Common Agricultural Policy: CAP is a system of European Union agricultural subsidies and programmes. It represents 48 percent of the EU’s budget, €49.8 billion in 2006 (up from €48.5 billion in 2005). The CAP combines a direct subsidy payment for crops and land which may be cultivated with price support mechanisms, including guaranteed minimum prices, import tariffs and quotas on certain goods from outside the EU. Reforms of the system are currently underway reducing import controls and transferring subsidy to land stewardship rather than specific crop production (phased from 2004 to 2012).

Conventional Cotton: ‘Conventional’ includes all mainstream cotton i.e. not grown organically, agro-ecologically, biodynamically (or to Fairtrade certification standards).  Conventional cotton is typically grown using synthetic chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers and defoliants) and can be genetically modified (see genetic engineering). These days much conventional cotton growing follows some ‘integrated pest management’ (IPM) principles. Note: sometimes 'conventional' and genetically modified 'GMO' cotton is differentiated. 

Cotton Boll: The fruit of the cotton plant, containing the fibre and seeds, usually oval to round in shape. Each plant can contain anything from ten to a hundred plus bolls.

Cotton In-Conversion: Organic cotton in conversion is grown on land which has only recently been converted to organic methods (typically less than 2 or 3 years). Therefore, although no chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are being used, residues may still be found in the soil. This conversion period can be difficult for farmers, who usually experience an initial drop in yield, while not being able to obtain premium organic price for their crops.

Cottonseed: Cottonseed is the seed of cotton after the lint has been removed. It is a source of cottonseed oil. The residue is often used as a stock feed.

Crop Protection: Cotton can be attacked by more than 170 pests! Of course only some cause real harm. The systematic method of preventing damage from pests, disease and weeds is known as crop protection.

Extension Services: ‘Extension’ has been recently defined as “systems that facilitate the access of farmers, their organizations and other market actors to knowledge, information and technologies; facilitate their interaction with partners in research, education, agribusiness, and other relevant institutions; and assist them to develop their own technical, organizational and management skills and practices” (Christoplos, 2010).

Fairtrade Premium: Money paid (on top of the Fairtrade minimum price) as part of a contractual arrangement between producers and traders that is invested in social, environmental and economic development projects. Projects are decided upon democratically by producers within the organisation or by workers on a plantation.

Fiber: Develops as an extension of cells in the walls of the developing cotton seed (see Lint).

Food security: The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.  Commonly, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people’s dietary needs as well as their food preferences. In many countries, health problems related to dietary excess are an ever increasing threat, In fact, malnutrition and foodborne diarrhoea are become double burden. Food security is built on three pillars:

• Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.

• Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.

• Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.

Genetic engineering: The transfer of genetic characters between species to enhance the performance of the recipient species in some specific characteristic. Different types of genetically modified (GM) cotton do different things. Herbicide resistant cotton can be sprayed with particular herbicides without dying; with the objective of allowing herbicides to be sprayed on weeds without harming the GM cotton plant. The insecticide resistant GM cotton contains two genes that kill particular insects. In this case the Cotton Bollworm and the Native Budworm will die when they eat the GM cotton. Other insects however are not affected by the GM cotton.

Ginning: The process of separating the cotton fiber from the seed. Ginning can be either by roller or by saw and takes place in a cotton gin. Ginned cotton lint is compressed into bales.

Integrated Crop Management (ICM): A system of crop production based on a good understanding of balancing external input dependence with indigenous knowledge and techniques. Farmers in INM, ICM and IPM can be groomed for organic. Some scientists feel that these production systems are a pathway to organic production.

Integrated Nutrient Management (INM): A prudent and balanced use of chemical fertilizers in conjunction with organic manures and bio-fertilizers.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A system of pest management that incorporates all aspects of pest control, including cultural practices, biological control, natural control, pheromones, and discriminate chemical control.

Internal Control System (ICS): An Internal Control System is the part of a documented quality assurance system that allows an external certification body to delegate the periodical inspection of individual group members to an identified body or unit within the certified operator. This means that the third party certification bodies only have to inspect the wellfunctioning of the system, as well as to perform a few spot-check re-inspections of individual smallholders (IFOAM).

Lint: The lint is the cotton fiber obtained by the ginning process once the cotton seed, leaves and casings have been removed.

Micronaire: A property of the cotton fibre determined by the variety and maturity and fineness of the fibre. MIC as it is called affects processing and dyeing and is vital to yarn quality. MIC should not be too high or too low.

Organic Agriculture: Organic production is an overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, the application of high animal welfare standards and a production method in line with the preference of certain consumers for products produced using natural substances and processes. The organic production method thus plays a dual societal role, where it on the one hand provides for a specific market responding to a consumer demand for organic products, and on the other hand delivers public goods contributing to the protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as to rural development. Pro-Life and Pro- poor systems are encouraged, including biological controls.

Organic Cotton Project: Is an initiative to set up an organic cotton business; with a defined start and end to the intervention. Projects are often initiated by an NGO or development group supporting growers in a developing country.

Organic Farm Systems: Organic cotton is not usually grown on its own (as a monoculture). It requires a variety of crops performing special roles to support the organic nature of the farm system.  This means each crop grown on the farm has a role to play in supporting the viability of the organic farm system to produce cotton – and thus the livelihood of the small scale farmer. The role each crop plays will vary – for example it might contribute to soil fertility (rotation crop), help control pests (trap crop), keep the family food secure or be a valuable cash crop. Food for personal consumption, and further income from local, regional or export market contributes to the socio-economic viability of the farm system.

Producer Group: Is a group of farmers working collaboratively to produce organic cotton to economic scales. The group is usually defined by geographical location such as village. The cooperative nature of the group enables the structure, organisation and various specialised roles to develop (such as leadership, marketing, administration, ICS, training management) necessary to build a successful business. A producer group may be a cooperative, NGO-supported project, company, independent farmer association and so on.

Small Scale Farming: For developing countries, small-scale farmers are usually defined as those farming two hectares or less. In other parts of the world, small-scale farmers have much larger land bases. Marginal farmers own very small amount of land (usually less than a hectare).

Subsidy: A sum of money granted by the state or a public body to help an industry or business keep the price of a commodity low, usually to encourage production or consumption or to help the business to be more competitive. Subsidies which stimulate over production causing prices to fall are trade distorting.

Trading: Spot trading is any transaction where delivery either takes place immediately, or with a minimum lag between the trade and delivery due to technical constraints. Commodity markets are markets where raw or primary products are exchanged. These raw commodities are traded on regulated commodities exchanges, in which they are bought and sold in standardized contracts. Commodity and futures contracts are based on what’s termed forward contracts.

Early on these forward contracts — agreements to buy now, pay and deliver later — were used as a way of getting products from producer to the consumer. Forward contracts have evolved and have been standardized into what we know today as futures contracts. The Cotlook A Index is intended to be representative of the level of offering prices on the international raw cotton market. It is an average of the cheapest five quotations from a selection of the principal upland cottons traded internationally.

Value Chain: A chain of activities in which the product (cotton) gains in value on its downstream journey from production to final consumption.