It has been 5 years now since I decided to convert to organic cotton. I made this decision because I had just suffered a miscarriage due to the use of pesticides. Organic cotton has given me more independence as a woman, because I receive a better income, and I am paid immediately after the harvest. I am now able to buy luxuries, clothing, crockery something which is a real pleasure because I couldn’t do it before. And more importantly, my children’s health is no longer at risk.” (Evelyn Ate Kokale)

“After spraying, I would get burnings and problems with my eyes, and also hernia symptoms. But I’ve noticed all these symptoms disappearing since I’ve converted to organic. With the money we earned from organic cotton we were able to build a new building in the village, which is used by the local health care people when they come to this village as a consultation room, so there is somewhere dedicated for health in this village. I would like to see all of Benin becoming organic because organic cotton saves lives and at the moment only a minority of farmers are being saved from chemical pesticides.” (Nicolas Agbigonon, cotton farmer)

“OBEPAB (PAN UK’s local partner) helped us realise that chemicals were killing us. This is true and we are no aware of it. But I am telling you, the white man is now less interested in conventional cotton, and wants much more organic cotton. My brothers, OBEPAB were not lying when they told us that there is already a market for our organic cotton. I visited schools where people learn how to make clothes out of cotton. You should have seen the size of these workshops! They are maybe larger than my field, where many students work. What we produce here is too small for these schools. I am really glad I visited these workshops. It made me realise where the cotton we produce goes. I wish all of you could have seen this, you would realise that we need to produce much more organic cotton. We could earn much more money and get out of poverty. You all know about the problems brought to us by conventional cotton. With organic cotton our income is secured, and we can contribute good things for the community: building schools, water wells, tracks in the countryside, etc. We need to increase our production area and improve our yield.” (Barnabas Guerra, cotton farmer sharing his thoughts with fellow farmers after a visit to Europe visiting fashion schools with PAN UK)

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