Cotton production has been a central component of rural and urban Ethiopian life for centuries. The traditional clothing has always been made of locally cultivated cotton spun on drop spindles by women, and woven on hand looms by men. Most rural women and men living in areas where cotton grows have the skills to process the fiber themselves.
Cotton is grown in lower elevation areas of Ethiopia on small farms and large alike – private and government owed. In recent years, with the dramatic increase of textile industrialization, the demand for cotton has significantly increased. Improving and increasing cotton production is a major Government focus, and the sector is increasingly an area of foreign investment.
Many families grow cotton in their homes, clean it and spin it into thread for weaving their traditional clothing.
In addition to home production, farmers bring their crops to centralized cotton ginning plants where the cotton is processed. Sabahar purchases unspun cotton from distributors which is hand spun by our large network of women in Addis Ababa (perhaps more than 100 women). We also purchase factory-spun cotton from a number of large textile factories, which we use for warping our looms.
To date, there is no certified Fair Trade or organic cotton in Ethiopia. However, there are a few initiatives in process to facilitate its production. Sababar is committed to using such fair trade cotton once it is available.