Julién is president of the village organic cotton growers’ association. He farms 5 hectares of cotton which he grows with other crops including the local foods maize, cassava, yam and egusi.
Conventional cotton farmers around Glazoué can achieve yields of up to 40% more than those of organic growers. However, they have to spend around half their incomes on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Organic growers also receive a premium for their cotton and can grow other crops like cashews, maize and sorghum alongside their cotton. This means that organic farmers tend to make a higher profit than conventional farmers. “Before organic, I used to use pesticides to grow my cotton. After spraying I would feel dizzy and sick. I had a rash all over my arms that itched terribly. I scratched until I bled. Now I grow organic cotton. I make more money and I don’t need to spend money on dangerous pesticides. I have been able to build a good home for my family and to buy a motorbike.”
Thanks to training and access to new technologies, Julién and his fellow organic cotton farmers have been able to dramatically increase their yields over the past two seasons making growing organic cotton a viable economic alternative. To Julién, it means more money in his pocket and less damage to his and his family’s health.