Uganda Goes Organic with Edun

A Sneak Preview of Peter Sutherland's Documentary on the Conservation Cotton Initiative

With the launch of Edun in 2005, Ali Hewson and her husband Bono were among the first to unite fashion with ethics by encouraging fair trade and employment in developing countries. "There was a desire to do something on the ground because Bono was working a governmental level with debt relief," explains Hewson. "We thought about different industries we could get involved in, but seeing as the cotton industry and factories were there but losing business, because trade was going other places, it felt like there was a way in there." In 2007 the company joined forces with the Wildlife Conservation Society to create the Conservation Cotton Initiative, which encourages African homestead farmers to employ organic production methods, thus ensuring the future fertility of their soil and allowing them to demand a higher premium from international buyers. CCI has outreaches in Zambia and Madagascar, but its latest focus is Gulu in northern Uganda—a part of the country that has been war-torn for over 20 years, and where over 90 percent of the population are living under temporary shelter. Photographer and filmmaker Peter Sutherland, who has previously shown his intriguing, wild landscapes and snapshots of young, suburban rockers at the Rivington Arms Gallery in New York and Gallery White Room in Tokyo, visited the country in February for ten days to document the work that Edun is doing there. “Being there made the biggest impression on me out of anywhere I’ve visited, and I travel a lot,” he recalls. “I fell in love with the people.” The CCI initiative has helped to produce the cotton used to make Edun’s Grow to Sew T-shirt, 100 percent of profits from which are ploughed back into CCI. Here we show a teaser of Sutherland’s documentary, which will air on the Africa Channel in October.
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