In Benin, West Africa, it’s been another hugely impressive year of organic cotton farming expansion, women’s inclusion, and accessing new market opportunities with our long-term partners the Benin Organisation for the Promotion of Organic Farming (OBEPAB) and Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK).
Right now, this TRAID funded project has seen participating organically certified farms achieve a 222% higher net income for cotton compared to farms using pesticides. Not only that, but net income from other organic crops such as cashews, soya and maize are also much higher, 103%, 43% and 65% higher respectively.
Last year marked an important new phase of the project with OBEPAB’s long-term evidence-based successes attracting additional major new investment from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to rapidly expand and replicate this ecological cotton farming model. This achievement has been made possible by TRAID which has supported this work since 2009, providing OBEPAB and PAN UK with the resources, time, and steady commitment needed to establish a flourishing evidence-based model of sustainable, resilient, and diversified organic cotton farming systems in Benin.
This work has led to the Benin government banning the use of the highly hazardous pesticide endosulfan and accelerating the expansion of organic farming with the project now supporting 5,571 organic cotton farmers and 145 cooperatives which reach Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Cotton Made in Africa (CMiA) certification standards. 3,957 tonnes of organic cotton was grown in 2021, and in the last completed season, all certified cotton was sold into international organic markets.
Importantly, this model prioritises increasing participation rates of women farmers which are now 30% (three times higher than farmers using pesticides) with 71% of these women reporting that they have more control and access to household income. Why is this important? Because most of these women are using their new economic power to improve their family’s income and future by sending their children to school and to acquire more land.
Another strategic success is crop diversification which in the midst of the climate emergency is critical. This year for example was challenging for farmers who experienced both drought and unpredictable rains. These farmers are not only growing organic cotton, but also food and cash crops such as shea nuts and soya ensuring they are not dependent on the success or failure of a single crop.
This is work to be proud of and the sheer energy, commitment, skill and tenacity of these organic farmers and the teams that support them is remarkable. It would also not be possible without your support. By shopping second-hand in TRAID’s charity shops, and passing on quality clothes which stock our stores, you directly help us raise the funds we commit to incredible, life-changing work such as this. Thank you.