On November 10, 2016, Catholic Relief Services – U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (CRS) and the National Union of Cotton Producers of Burkina (UNPCB) organized a guided tour of the Koumbo / Leo organic seed farm, together with a ceremony to donate materials and funding to producers and implementing partners of the RECOLTE project. This ceremo¬ny was presided over by His Excellency the President of Faso, represented by his Special Advisor for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Moussa KABORE. The importance of the event was also enhanced by the participation of the Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Ouagadougou, Mr. David Young, the CRS Country Representative in Burkina Faso, Mr. Dominique Bangre, and the President of UNPCB, Mr. Karim Traore.
The ceremony was part of the U.S. De¬partment of Agriculture’s (USDA) Reve¬nue through Cotton Livelihoods, Trade and Equity (RECOLTE) project’s visibility campaign. This five-year project (Sep¬tember 2013 – September 2018) is being implemented by Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with the National Union of Cotton Producers of Burkina (UNPCB) and with technical support from the Cotton Program of the Institute of En¬vironment and Agricultural Research (INERA). With financing of around 6.5 billion FCFA, this project aims to moder¬nize the organic cotton value chain and to increase the incomes, economic prospects and food security of more than 10,000 smallholder producers in Burkina Faso, which is mostly composed of women. This project contributes to tackle the third major challenge identified in the National Program for Economic and Social Development (PNDES): The development of production bases and the competitiveness of the domestic production and processing sectors for sustainable industrial development and employment opportunities.
The President’s Special Advisor and other representatives were able to appreciate the qua¬lity of the project’s implementation through the activities presented and the donations and funding made during this ceremony.
The guided tour of the farm was an opportunity to see the extent of the investment the pro¬ject has made in quality seed production. The Koumbo farm is one of three farms set up by the RECOLTE project. The production of organic cotton seed and rotational crops (sesame and peanuts) is carried out by UNPCB with technical support from INERA and the AgriLife Center of Texas A&M University in the United States. The farmhouse, which is equipped with a tractor, a borehole, a drying platform, a storage facility, and an office for the managers, also serves as a place for incubating and promoting technical innovations as well for the training of organic cotton producers.
The RECOLTE project is currently supervi¬sing a successful approach to solving the issue of the production of quality seeds and their availability for the production of or¬ganic cotton. A total of about 150 million FCFA was allocated to develop and equip these farms. Other actors involved in the project activities also made presentations for the occasion. The RECOLTE project and its partners have been very active in in¬troducing new, improved technologies to help build the capacity of stakeholders in the organic cotton sub-sector, to improve fertility management, and integrated pest management. The use of ICT technologies by UNPCB introduced and made possible by the RECOLTE project has caught the attention of all attendees as they allow for electronic data collection, processing and analysis in real time.
The second part of the ceremony was the donation of agricultural materials to the producers by Mr. Karim Traore, President of the UNPCB. The strategy put in place by the RECOLTE project provides a 50% subsidy for the beneficiaries for such materials. This approach has met with the approval of the Pre¬sident’s Special Advisor, who is in charge of Agriculture and Food Security and high-level guests. The total amount allocated for agricultural materials is nearly 253 million FCFA. This money is being used to increase the use of machines in agricultural activity, which is an im¬portant factor in the development of the agricultural sector and which will ultimately affect more than 2,600 smallholder farmers.
The third part of the ceremony involved the donation of equipment by the United States Em-bassy Chargé d’Affaires of Burkina Faso, Mr. David Young, and the CRS Country Represen-tative in Burkina Faso, Mr. Dominique Bangre, to UNPCB and INERA. The donation included three tractors, three vehicles, and two dozen motorcycles. These investments, which will strengthen the partners’ capacity to aid their beneficiaries and intervene in a wider geogra¬phical organic cotton-producing zone, will amount to nearly 178 million FCFA. This will allow the partners to efficiently provide agricultural extension services to all of the 10,000 organic cotton producers targeted by RECOLTE.
The last act of the ceremony was conducted by the President’s Special Advisor Mr. Moussa Kabore, representing His Excellency the President of the Republic. Mr. Kabore presented a check in the amount of 1,262,222 FCFA to the association of women producing organic cot¬ton from the Bédounkale 2 group of cotton producers. This amount will be used to finance income-generating activities for the women. Other financing of nearly 70 million FCFA will reach 109 associations and 3,000 women producers in the eight organic cotton-producing zones of the country.
All of the authorities attending the ceremony expressed their gratitude to Catholic Relief Services for its work and thanked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the funding to make the project possible. In his speech, Mr. David Young, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, highlighted the exemplary cooperation between his country and Burkina Faso, and promised the continued commitment of the U.S. government to support Burkina Faso’s efforts to de¬velop. He expressed his satisfaction with the achievements of the project which have made the «gift of the American people to the Burkinabe people» a well-executed investment by CRS.
Mr. Moussa Kabore, on behalf of His Excellency the President of Burkina Faso, expressed his thanks to the donor (USDA) for the funding and congratulated the project actors for the impressive execution of the project activities. He also noted the commitment and solidarity of the actors, which are the keys to long the lasting impact of any project. Mr. Kabore asked Mr. Young to express his satisfaction for this ongoing success through the RECOLTE project and the commitment of the Government of Burkina Faso to the highest authorities of USDA. He called for additional support in two other areas: 1) The organization in Burkina Faso of an international textile and cotton fair, and 2) the creation of a company for the transport, ginning, processing and marketing of organic cotton.
Mr. Kabore asked the project team and Mr. Young to reflect on these «expectations ex¬pressed by His Excellency the President of Faso» to prepare for the end of the project and to reinforce the impact of its actions. The project managers confirmed that these expectations will be addressed to the extent possible in the activities planned for 2017 and 2018.
It was on these prospective notes that the ceremony ended with the TV and radio interviews of the authorities present and a reception organized by the CRS.
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