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The Path of Cotton in Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and Slovenia

December 23, 2016|

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Local farmers load the cotton onto the Sofitex containers at the collection center, near Boro. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Local farmers load the cotton onto the Sofitex containers at the collection center, near Boro. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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Local farmers are seen at the market, a collection center for cotton, in a village near Dano. Just before the market day, farmers help each other press the cotton into a huge, hard mass so they're able to weigh their harvest. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2016.

Local farmers are seen at the market, a collection center for cotton, in a village near Dano. Just before the market day, farmers help each other press the cotton into a huge, hard mass so they're able to weigh their harvest. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2016.

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Villagers pick cotton in a village near Toussiana. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Villagers pick cotton in a village near Toussiana. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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Family members of Issa Gira walk on the pile of cotton after it was brought into the warehouse next to their home, in Boromo. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Family members of Issa Gira walk on the pile of cotton after it was brought into the warehouse next to their home, in Boromo. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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Workers vacuum cotton from containers in the Sofitex factory in Hounde. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Workers vacuum cotton from containers in the Sofitex factory in Hounde. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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A cotton field in Boromo. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

A cotton field in Boromo. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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Cotton farmers load cotton into the Sofitex container near Boro village. Sofitex is one of the three companies in Burkina Faso that buys cotton from farmers and provides loans to cultivators. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Cotton farmers load cotton into the Sofitex container near Boro village. Sofitex is one of the three companies in Burkina Faso that buys cotton from farmers and provides loans to cultivators. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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A farmer extracts the seed out of the cotton crop in Boromo. Jost Franko. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

A farmer extracts the seed out of the cotton crop in Boromo. Jost Franko. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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A farmer picks up the harvest in a cotton field near Toussiana in Burkina Faso. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

A farmer picks up the harvest in a cotton field near Toussiana in Burkina Faso. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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Aruna Ottara's family members carry cotton to the collection point, in Diongolo. Aruba Ottara has produced 6 hectares of cotton in the 2015 season and is considered a big producer by local standards. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Aruna Ottara's family members carry cotton to the collection point, in Diongolo. Aruba Ottara has produced 6 hectares of cotton in the 2015 season and is considered a big producer by local standards. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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Sofitex factory Bobo III is seen in Bobo-Dioulasso. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

Sofitex factory Bobo III is seen in Bobo-Dioulasso. Image by Jost Franko. Burkina Faso, 2015.

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A worker at a cotton spinning mill in Narsingdi. The spinning mill is a part of Momin Textile Mills, a company that owns 18 factories for cotton spinning, cloth making and coloring the textile. All 18 factories are based in Narsingdi. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

A worker at a cotton spinning mill in Narsingdi. The spinning mill is a part of Momin Textile Mills, a company that owns 18 factories for cotton spinning, cloth making and coloring the textile. All 18 factories are based in Narsingdi. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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A worker in a textile dying and printing factory controls the cloth after it is dyed in Narsingdi. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.  The dying and printing company started in 1985 and gradually started to expand. Today, they employ 500 workers and plans to expand additionally. They print and dye cloth for both local and export companies. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

A worker in a textile dying and printing factory controls the cloth after it is dyed in Narsingdi. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

The dying and printing company started in 1985 and gradually started to expand. Today, they employ 500 workers and plans to expand additionally. They print and dye cloth for both local and export companies. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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Washed jeans are seen in a factory in the Savar area of Dhaka. The plant does work for larger Western companies and employs around 100 people, combining manual labour and large washing machines. Workers therefore have to manually wash the clothing with bare hands during part of the process. They have testified about regular infections the poisonous waste water causes to their skin. Even though many chemicals are used in the process, the factory doesn't use water treatment plants for waste water. Image by Jo

Washed jeans are seen in a factory in the Savar area of Dhaka. The plant does work for larger Western companies and employs around 100 people, combining manual labour and large washing machines. Workers therefore have to manually wash the clothing with bare hands during part of the process. They have testified about regular infections the poisonous waste water causes to their skin. Even though many chemicals are used in the process, the factory doesn't use water treatment plants for waste water. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016

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A worker operates the washing machine in the Savar area of Dhaka. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

A worker operates the washing machine in the Savar area of Dhaka. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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Workers are seen in Zaara Jeans garment factory in the area, Dhaka. The factory employs 1200 workers, who mostly produce jeans and jackets. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

Workers are seen in Zaara Jeans garment factory in the area, Dhaka. The factory employs 1200 workers, who mostly produce jeans and jackets. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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A young garment worker carries jeans to a storage room nearby in Old Dhaka. The small informal factories mostly work for local production, but take subcontracted work for larger factories. Since residential rent is too expensive for most workers, they sleep in the factories.  Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

A young garment worker carries jeans to a storage room nearby in Old Dhaka. The small informal factories mostly work for local production, but take subcontracted work for larger factories. Since residential rent is too expensive for most workers, they sleep in the factories. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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Garment workers leave the factory after their shift in Dhaka. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

Garment workers leave the factory after their shift in Dhaka. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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Garment workers eat supper after work in their home in Dhaka, Most of the family is employed in the garment industry. Even though all of them work, their living conditions are extremely bad. The room, roughly 5 to 6 square meters, is home to seven people. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

Garment workers eat supper after work in their home in Dhaka, Most of the family is employed in the garment industry. Even though all of them work, their living conditions are extremely bad. The room, roughly 5 to 6 square meters, is home to seven people. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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A textile worker irons trousers in Dhaka. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

A textile worker irons trousers in Dhaka. Image by Jost Franko. Bangladesh, 2016.

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A woman does the laundry in Menges, Slovenia. Image by Jost Franko. Slovenia, 2016.

A woman does the laundry in Menges, Slovenia. Image by Jost Franko. Slovenia, 2016.

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A teenager tries on a dress in a larger retail store in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Image by Jost Franko. Slovenia, 2016.

A teenager tries on a dress in a larger retail store in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Image by Jost Franko. Slovenia, 2016.

From its raw form to the finished product in the shape of clothing, cotton moves through the hands of some of the lowest paid workers in the world. Due to subsidies, farmer families in West Africa earn around $300 a year. And while corporations are subject to tax-free agreements, garment workers in Southern Asia are paid roughly $60 a month. This slideshow follows the path of cotton from the fields in Burkina Faso, to the garment industry in Bangladesh, and to consumption of clothing in Slovenia.

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