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Integrating social science research into cotton reform implementation lined with the international outlook

Final Report Summary - ISSCRI2 (Integrating Social Science Research Into Cotton Reform Implementation lined with the international outlook)

The ISSCRI project was based mainly on meetings and on promoting the synergies between the scientists involved. It lasted from January 2007 till February 2009. The project was built in early 2006, short after the New Cotton Regime (NCR) entered into force in European Union. It also was conceived a few months after the WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong which claimed the integration of the African cotton countries' concern to phasing out cotton subsidies in the world.

The implementation of the project was influenced by two important phenomena. The NCR has been cancelled by the European Court of Justice in response to the complaint introduced by Spain. The principle of the reform of the cotton policy in Europe was not questioned per se, but the European Commission was requested to adjust this reform by taking into account its impacts on the Spanish cotton sector. A new reform proposal was submitted by the end of 2007 and adopted at the end of the first semester of 2008.

In the other hand, till the end of the project, the Doha negotiations are not yet finalised. A new chair for the farm talks was to be designated. In the opposite of the expectations by the time of conceiving the project, there are no clear advances in the finalisation of the Doha round and it is hard to state to what extent the 'Cotton file' will be taken into consideration.

The project composition reflected the context at the time of its conception. The first component, or work package 1 (WP1), targeted at implementing a participative approach to help to adjust the NCR by facilitating interactions between cotton sector stakeholders in Greece and Spain.

The second component, WP2, focussed on a better understanding of cotton policies in the world. The third component, WP3, corresponds to an initiation of collaborative works between scientists involved in socio-economic issues of cotton production.

The project was coordinated by CIRAD, which led also WP2. The IFAPA, in Spain, led WP1 while the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in Greece, was in charge of the leadership of WP3. The project has been entirely implemented; all the deliverables scheduled have been achieved, significantly beyond what was contemplated.

Project website and management activities

The project website (please see online) was made operational in early march 2007. This website is bilingual (French and English) and has enjoyed a conspicuous link at the website of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC, please see online). This website will be maintained by the project coordinator, CIRAD, for at least two years beyond the project completion. The structure of this website nevertheless might evolve to better comply with the CIRAD's activities in the area of cotton policies.

The early operation of the project website has positively contributed to the awareness about the project, in particular as the vehicle of a newsletter whose diffusion was not envisaged in the project. The objective of the newsletter, in addition to inform about the ISSCRI project activities, was to share the information on the stakeholders' interaction related to cotton policy issues in the world. This information is collected from electronic newspapers in more than twenty cotton countries (notably India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Mexico, China, Australia, Egypt, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Venezuela, Peru and Angola). 15 issues were diffused between April 2007 and July 2008, reaching about 1 350 people connected to cotton issues in the world. It is a pity that, in spite of several laudable feedbacks mainly from African subscribers, the diffusion of the newsletter has stopped because it is very time demanding to the project coordinator and its time requirement competes with the edition of the proceedings of the international conference the project organised in May 2008.

The project coordination has benefitted from four meetings associating all or part of the project partners, in the framework of scheduled technical meetings:
a) the kick-off workshop in Montpellier (France), in February 2007,
b) the coordination meeting in Volos (Greece) after the national seminar there, in May 2007,
c) the coordination meeting in Cordoba (Spain) after the ISSCRI cotton seminar in September 2007 and finally,
d) the ISSCRI International Conference in Montpellier (France), May 17, 2008.
The coordination meetings have permitted the needed interaction between partners to address the tasks ahead as well as on the compliance with the timing of the deliverable completion.

Three deliverables are directly connected to the whole management of the project:
- report on raising public participation and awareness;
- final plan for using and disseminating knowledge;
- project completion report.

WP1 activities: launching self-sustained national processes of interaction with EU cotton policy

The activities were scheduled for the first year of the project and they were executed entirely during the first year. These activities have been reported in detail in the first technical report, they are only briefly recalled in this completion report. The ISSCRI project mainly targets at contributing to the promotion of cotton sector stakeholders' interaction related to the cotton policy in Europe, within the international context of critique against the high level of support provided to European cotton growers. The WP1 pertains to an attempt of the social scientists to play some role in the stakeholders' interaction process in the two European cotton countries.

WP2 activities: contributing to international mutual understanding on cotton production

The objective of the WP2 in the ISSCRI project is to help to achieve a better understanding of cotton policies at the international level. Since African countries have also criticised the subsidy policy of the EU, during the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun in September 2003, the first task was to explore the possible role of the project to facilitate some mutual understanding between African and European cotton stakeholders. The second task was to organise an international conference dealing with issues related to cotton policies in the world.

WP3: Setting up a cotton sector specific research network on socio-economic issues

The tasks associated with WP3 are to set up the nucleus of a research network dedicated to cotton policy and to start collaboration through the analysis of the impacts of the NCR in Greece and Spain.


The project has started on time and most of the scheduled tasks have also been executed timely adjusted to the postponed deadline of the project. All deliverables the project partners have committed to deliver have been achieved. Some achievements go beyond commitments:
- The diffusion of the ISSCRI newsletter has permitted to capture the diversity of cotton policies in the world as well as the dramatic features of the reactions of the cotton sector stakeholders in few countries.
- The project has organised the first international conference focussed on the issue of cotton policies. The publication of the conference proceedings in English and the forthcoming publication of a special issue on cotton policies in a French journal contribute to disseminate one of the project major achievements.
- An original internet tool has been developed to implement the referencing of scientific documents within researchers' networks. It can be use by any researchers' network having common research theme that can be split down in hierarchic thesaurus.

The project coordinator is proceeding to further disseminate the project outputs through the CORDIS project information and dissemination service. It commits to maintain active, for at least two more years, the two website that the implementation of the project has led to set up.