The project aimed to increase direct income accrued by small-holder cotton producers in the selected production areas through enabling them to produce and sell uncontaminated seed cotton. It was estimated that ultimately (once the system has gained credibility) income increases exceeding 5 – 10% of the current incomes could be realized. The project included facilitation of producer training and provision of required harvest/collection inputs as well as building/strengthening the required institutional arrangements between the different commercial partners involved in the early stages of the supply chain (producers and their organizations, traders, ginners, cotton companies, etc). Target was to have at project-end some 27,000 farmers firmly established in the programme, who should jointly produce at least some 100,000 tons of seed cotton. The project formed part of the EU’s All ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme (AAACP), which provided substantive co-financing (in the years 2010 – 2011). Parallel to the project activities, the World Bank (also AAACP-funded) initiated a programme that focused on developing the required institutional and legislative arrangements at national level to ensure the regulatory/institutional sustainability next to the commercial sustainability resulting from the direct project activities. The project was approved in October 2009.
During 2012 substantive progress has been reported which has enabled completion of the project early in 2013. By the end of the project, some 30,000 producers were trained, while also extension staff of cotton companies, ginners and transporters were trained (in total approximately 1,800 persons) whereby it is to be noted that these were not as evenly distributed over the three countries as planned. Due to the political situation in Côte d’Ivoire, fewer farmers could be reached than planned. This was “compensated” by increasing efforts in the other two countries, resulting in an involvement of some 11,500 farmers in each country. Parallel to training and awareness programmes addressing farmer groups in the project area, also the envisaged trainings to transporters, gin operators, etc was given. Improved cotton-based harvest kits (consisting of sacks, tarpaulins and covers) have been locally produced and distributed. Throughout the project, some 270,000 tons of seed cotton was produced by the participating farmers. Extensive sample taking has taken place to enable statistically relevant analysis for quality control/contamination detection in specialized laboratories in Mali and Burkina Faso.
The project has been subjected to an external expert evaluation in December 2012. Overall findings regarding the project’s relevance, approach and results were positive. Recommendations for improvement were taken into account in the planning of the final project activities.
An important aspect that was noted during 2012 related to the cotton companies’ efforts to ensure realization of premium prices on the national and global markets. This aspect, which should ultimately enable higher prices to be paid to participating farmers, requires further reflection and consultation with the cotton companies in particular with their marketing departments. This issue has been addressed in the final project report which is placed on the CFC website. Detailed information regarding this project beyond the level of detail provided in the final report, may be obtained from the regional office of IFDC, the agency responsible for the implementation of the project, Contact person is Dr. A. de Jager, Director, IFDC North and West Africa Division, Ghana, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.