The C&A Foundation has chosen eight winners for its ‘Meaningful Innovation for Family Farming – Sustainable Cotton Challenge’ programme in Brazil, which was launched late last year to support innovation among smallholder organic cotton farmers. The winning proposals were chosen from more than 40 applications and selected by a panel of 22 judges, made up of specialists from research companies, international organisations, NGOs and government agencies. They will each receive €100,000 from the programme and begin implementation this month.

Four of the chosen proposals were by entrepreneur Gilberto Barros. They included a manual cotton baler, which allows cotton farmers to bale their cotton on their own property using small pressing machines, along with hydraulic-pneumatic press for oilseeds, capable of removing up to 40 ltr of oil from seeds by-products such as cotton, corn and sesame. His other accepted proposals were a hammer mill for crushing seeds, which uses a similar technic to the hydraulic-pneumatic press to create a machine to crush seeds to feed livestock, and cotton seeds retriever, a safer method for removing cotton fibres using a flame instead of chemicals.

Other chosen initiatives were ‘Motorized Harvesters’, by Joélcio Carvalho, a backpack equipped with a suction tube for harvesting cotton, and ‘Simplifying Renewable Energy’ by Flávio Luna, a project which enables farmers to produce oil and other by-products from corn and sesame on their own property.

According to C&A Foundation, Brazil is the world’s fifth largest producer of cotton, however organic cotton production accounts for just 1 per cent of overall volumes in Brazil.