Mrs. Bagnan Katiga is an organic cotton producer. She is 37 years old and a mother of six children. She has one child in high school, three children in primary school and two preschool-aged children.
“Cotton production is men’s business,” she said. This opinion is shared by most women in Katiga’s village of Koumbo, located in the South of Burkina Faso. None of the women in the village cultivates conventional cotton. In conventional cotton farming, the role of women is generally limited to assisting their husbands with planting and harvesting. Usually, those involved in the production of conventional cotton are part of a self-managed group that works in solidarity and creates its own rules. This type of governance leads to the exclusion of women from the conventional cotton market, because conventional cotton production requires a large amount of capital, which women cannot typically access.
Organic cotton production, on the other hand, started in Koumbo during the 2006-2007 season. It is managed by UNPCB, the National Cotton Producers’ Union. Organic cotton is freed from chemicals, such as chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. This was an attractive element for women and led them to get involved in organic cotton farming.
Organic cotton farming is currently being supported in Burkina Faso by Catholic Relief Services, though its Revenue through Cotton Livelihoods, Trade and Equity (RECOLTE) program, funded by the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) with an operating budget of $11.8 million.
The goal of RECOLTE is to upgrade the organic cotton value chain, increase revenue, and improve the economic prospects and food security of more than 10,000 smallholder farmers, of which at least 30 percent are women.
In 2014, when the RECOLTE program began in Koumbo village, Mrs. Bagnan contacted the UNPCB field officer, who added her to the list of organic cotton producers and provided her with seed. She also joined the local GPCB, the local cotton producers’ group. She obtained a plot of land from her husband, which was located in the family field. Since the plot had not been used for several years, it was free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides, allowing her to be certified as an organic producer right away.
From 2014 to 2016, the area of land Mrs. Bagnan dedicated to organic-cotton production doubled from 0.5 ha to 1 ha of organic cotton. Her net income tripled from 50,000 FCFA to 150,000 FCFA ($300) in the same period. In addition to cotton, Mrs. Bagnan grows peanuts (0.25 ha), soybeans (0.10 ha) and okra for sale and consumption.
The RECOLTE project also increases access to farming equipment, which enables growers to increase the cultivated area and reduce the time and effort required of traditional fieldwork. With the acquisition of a plow/hiller in the 2015/2016 season, Mrs. Bagnan was able to increase her cotton acreage by 20%.
With the income she obtained from her first cotton sale, Mrs. Bagnan purchased a young bull to help with plowing. The bull is now valued at 350,000 FCFA ($750).
“With the money I earned from producing organic cotton, I was able to pay my children’s school fees and purchase medicine for when my children were ill. And this year I was able to help my husband build a small house,” Mrs. Bagnan proudly states, as she describes the revenue earned through the RECOLTE program during a guided tour of the Koumbo seed farm. “I encourage other women to join the organic cotton network because it’s a way to earn money to take care of our families, and also a way to preserve our health because it does not use chemicals.”
For more information about CRS/BF and the RECOLTE program,
please contact Dominique.Bangre@crs.org
Address Burkina: Zone industrielle Gounghin, 01 BP 469, Ouagadougou
Address USA: 228 W. Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 www.crs.org
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