Organic cotton production in Africa has entered the international market allowing this newly emerging enterprise to grow and expand local entrepreneurial business.
Pierre Bangou is a cotton producer in the town of Komadougou in Burkina Faso who is reaping the rewards of producing organic cotton as opposed to conventional cotton. Over the past six years the organic cotton production in Burkina Faso has grown from 10 tons to 200 tons. Organic cotton producers get paid premium prices for their cotton and having certification with FLO, a fair trade organisation. Pierre’s land has doubled in size due to his success in producing the cotton. The process is better for the environment and the health of the producers.
The organic cotton producers receive assistance from the Swiss NGO Helvetas and the National Union of Cotton Producers in Burkina Faso. We speak to one of the Union’s technical experts who offer support on farming and train producers to know which harmful insects to look out for, methods for producing organic fertilizer and how to monitor the plants to boost production through organic methods. In order for the cotton to be certified it has to meet strict requirements, which means no chemicals may be used in the farming.
Helvetas helps the local producers to enter into foreign industry and marketing, as the local market is still very small for organic cotton. Two representatives from Hessnatur, one of organic cotton’s foreign importers, visited the new community building financed by the FLO where the producers receive training and hold their meetings.
Organic cotton production is growing in Africa where there is a greater demand for it internationally than ever before, therefore infrastructures and support systems have been set up in Africa to backup this industry.