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Organic cotton farmers turn inventors to win C&A grants

The C&A Foundation, alongside the Brazilian NGO ESPLAR and World-Transforming Technologies, has awarded funds to smallholder farmers who submitted ideas to boost their organic cotton production.

The winners will share $100,000 to help bring their ideas to fruition and help them boost their one percent share of the Brazilian market. The country is the world’s fifth largest producer of cotton.

They were selected by a panel of 22 judges, made up of specialists from research companies, international organisations, NGOs and government agencies. 

One entrepreneur, Gilberto Barros, had four of his proposals selected.

The winning initiatives were:

Motorized harvesters – by Joélcio Carvalho. This simple innovation is a backpack equipped with a suction tube for harvesting cotton. This method makes cotton harvesting twice as fast for smallholder farmers, says C&A.   

Simplifying renewable energy – by Flávio Luna. This project enables farmers to produce oil and other by products from corn and sesame on their own property. As corn and sesame are usually grown with cotton, this generates extra income for farmers.   

Making organic certification assessment processes simple – by Laércio Meirelles. Laws in Brazil are making it increasingly difficult for smallholder farmers in Brazil to receive and maintain organic cotton certification. This initiative will develop a simpler system and train farmers how to use it. 

Motorised scythes – by Adriano Rodrigues. This initiative will convert motorcycles into a plow that can be used by farmer collectives.  

Manual cotton baler – by Gilberto Barros. This will offer cotton farmers the opportunity to bale their cotton on their own property using small pressing machines.  

Hydraulic-pneumatic press for oilseeds – by Gilberto Barros. This introduces a new technology capable of removing up to 40 litres of oil from cotton, corn and sesame seeds.  

Hammer mill for crushing seeds – by Gilberto Barros. Using a similar technique to the hydraulic-pneumatic press, this creates a machine to crush seeds to feed livestock. 

Cotton seeds retriever – by Gilberto Barros. A safer method for removing cotton fibres using a flame instead of chemicals.

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