!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Training Cotton Farmers in Africa

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Training Cotton Farmers in Africa

At one point while I was traveling in Germany last month, I found myself in immediate need of a clean shirt, so a bought one on sale for 5 euros. It turned out to be a product associated with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) project, whose aim is to improve the social and economic conditions of small cotton farmers in Africa.

CmiA's specific goals are:
  • Improvement of cotton growing, moving towards sustainable production. This includes using water, fertilizers, and pesticides in the best way for achieving high yields without damaging the environment. It also includes encouraging parents to send their children — girls as well as boys — to primary school, and helping farmers access markets without being forced to accept artificially low prices set by monopolistic buyers.

  • Enhancing the competitiveness of African cotton. The farmers' cotton is of high quality, which makes it attractive on the world market — if its price is competitive. CmiA helps farmers learn optimized management practices that enable them to maximize their gross margins.

  • Corporate responsibility in dealings affecting cotton farmers and the environment.
CmiA's effectiveness is evaluated using five sustainability indicators:
  • Children completing primary education

  • Efficiency of water usage

  • Pesticide use (avoidance of overuse)

  • Fertilizer use (avoidance of overuse)

  • Farmers' income (including timely receipt of payment from buyers)
CmiA's three-year pilot phase in three countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, and Zambia — is just now coming to an end. I will be watching to see how learning from the pilot is used to widen CmiA's impact.


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