Central laboratory ensures credibility to Brazilian cotton quality testing

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The credibility of Brazilian cotton is as important as its quality, as the sector sets out to conquer new markets and increasingly value locally produced lint. Standardizing classification tests is a key element in this process. It was with this goal in mind that the Brazilian Cotton Growers Association of Cotton (Abrapa) created the Standard Brazil HVI (SBRHVI) program, whose main pillar is a modern, well-equipped central laboratory located in Brasilia – the Brazilian Reference Center for Cotton Testing (CBRA).

Under Abrapa’s responsibility, the CBRA verifies and standardizes Brazilian cotton testing processes, which are made by high-volume instruments of the HVI type in 11 accredited laboratories. The international classification standard by high volume instruments, which commercially accepted worldwide, was adopted by the country in 2002.

“There were lots of discrepancies in the results. We needed to create a central laboratory capable of monitoring other Brazilian labs, to ensure the tests could be replicated and convey credibility to the market,” says Edson Mizoguchi, manager of the SBRHVI program.

In order to get the initiative going, Abrapa relied on the international consultancy of Axel Drieling, from the Global Cotton Testing and Research Center (ICA Bremen). The center is a world renowned institution that gathers the Faserinstitut Bremen, the Bremen Fibre Institute (FIBRE), and the Bremer Baumwollboerse (BBB). “In Brazil, there are several independent laboratories dedicated to testing domestic cotton production. The important role of the central laboratory is to make sure that they all achieve the same results for the same cotton,” says Drieling.

The CBRA is responsible for monitoring the accredited units and for making recommendations for improvements; preparing and providing the necessary samples for daily checks of the testing equipment; and retesting samples from growers, among other activities. Developed under the requirements of good cotton testing practices, the central laboratory has about 390 square meters, rooms with thermal insulation walls, climate control systems with sensors that monitor temperature and humidity per minute, in addition to a power generator. It also features two HVI-type high volume instrument testing machines, with double color heads that ensure greater reliability in color and trash readings. Each machine has compressors, stabilizers and battery backups. The equipment is calibrated with cotton supplied by the USDA and goes through maintenance procedures before the beginning of each harvest season.

“The CBRA is the central element that links all the laboratories and ensures a consistent assessment of the quality of Brazilian cotton. To that end, cooperation with all the laboratories and a continuous engagement in international harmonization activities are fundamental”, stresses Axel Drieling.

The central laboratory’s work is structured around four main activities: the CBRA Check Sample Program, the Retest Program, the Brazilian In-house Verification Cotton Program, and the Brazilian Round Trials. “All programs seek to constantly monitor the high-volume machines, as they perform more than a thousand tests per work shift. We are talking about 14 million tests distributed across 11 laboratories,” says Mizoguchi.

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