This project marks the first textile related project TRAID funded back in 2009, and a long-term commitment to expanding organic cotton production in Benin which has seen us invest over one million pounds. Today, organic cotton farmers in Benin formerly growing with toxic pesticides, have transformed their lives, wealth, health and local environment, and that of their families and wider communities. Here are just a few of the projects impacts so far: –
In 2021/22, TRAID is funding a new phase of the project providing our partner Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l’Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB) with £143,168 to take advantage of the rapidly growing demand for organic cotton in Africa. Government, traders and retailers are approaching our partners more than ever trying to buy organic cotton. The quality of cotton grown by the project’s farmers is ‘extraordinarily high’ and even in the context of high yields, they have seen big increases in a short space of time from 2,768 tonnes in 2019/20, to 4,278 tonnes in 2020/21.
Managing crops naturally by building knowledge in Farmer Field Schools, the development of low-tech tools like yeast and sugar based food spray to attract beneficial insects, peer-to-peer training and increasing women’s participation to 30% has proven an effective model for expanding organic cotton production in Benin.
To date, TRAID has been OBEPAB’s main funder, and we are proud to say that around 83.5% of the organic cotton grown in Benin is connected to this support! Now, growing demand for organic cotton is attracting additional potential investment, both from Government and privately. It could put this project in a stronger position to expand its programme further which means more organic cotton than ever. A win for farmers, the environment and fashion supply chains which currently only use a tiny proportion of sustainable cotton, around
In 2021/2022, the team will explore the potential benefits and risks new investment into organic cotton production could offer, will provide 4,750 farmers with Farmer Field School support, carry out field trials to ensure the availability of high-quality organic seed to suit the growing region (essential for future growth) and will support 562 farmers currently in transition from conventional to organic certification.
The Benin project has also been extremely successful at increasing the participation of women cotton farmers to 30% and has overcome barriers such as few women owning land to farm with a combination of education, inclusion, rights training and dogged persistence.
Of note, is that the project team at OBEPAB has steadily increased its influence. With over a decade of evidence based major improvements in yields and incomes, and thousands of organic cotton producers, the Government is taking notice. Most recently, OBEPAB Director Professor Simplice Davo Vodouhe was asked by Government to draft a national strategy for the organic sector.
Discover more: –
- 2009 – 2019 – More about this TRAID funded project can be found here Organic Cotton, A Route Out of Poverty
- 2020 – Meet Delphine Bodjrenou at OBEPAB who works to increase women’s participation in cotton farming. Read the blog.
- 2014 – Guardian journalist Susanna Rustin wrote about the realities of pesticide use in cotton farming, and why organic is different. “Cotton trade: where does your T-shirt grow?”
- An in-depth interview with OBEPAB Director Professor Simplice Davo Vodouhe as part of the Textile Exchange Round Table interviews in 2019