This project run by OBEPAB has produced the following impressive results.
Major Income Increase: In the last harvest (Winter 2018), farmers growing organically had a net income 92% higher than their neighbours farming conventionally (using chemical pesticides and fertilisers). It’s not because their yields were significantly higher but because the inputs they use – for example ingredients for natural pesticides – are a lot lower, and because of the 15% premium.
Organic Shea Nuts: Since the project began, the women farmers have always grown shea nuts, an important additional organic crop. During this phase of the project, machinery was purchased to process the shea nuts to a much higher quality which opened up new markets. There are now nine organic she women’s cooperatives with 200 members.The coops have used their profits to make low interest loans to members and for medical emergencies.
Organic Soya: Now, 981 farmers are producing organic soya too. This not only means extra income but rotating soya with cotton also has positive impacts on cotton yields. some farmers have reported a 1865 increase in cotton grown on land recently used for soya.
Empowerment: Critically, the higher income women have made from growing cotton has changed the decision making dynamics at home. When a group of women farmers were asked whether their husbands still contribute as much as they did to household expenses, the women said that they did. One commented ‘I think that having my own income has given me more power concerning household decisions, particularly about sending my children to school.’ She went on, with a grin ‘I have often argued with my husband about keeping my daughters in school and, with my own money, it is easier to win!’