The project intended to provide a range of services to selected producer organizations, thereby increasing producer incomes in sustainable manner. Based on self-assessments (if need be supported by project expertise) producer organizations could request support from the project in five fields: technical assistance (focus on agronomic practices); access to finance; market access; capacity building; and diversification/value-addition. The project was a pilot activity to assess the perspectives of using this approach to effectively access and support producer organizations in the African cotton sector, based on successful experiences with other commodities in other regions. The project effectively started in October 2011 and was completed early in 2014.
In Tanzania, the main counterpart was Biosustain, a ginning/trading company that aims to set-up sustainable contract farming systems with producers organized into semi-informal groups (“primary societies”). The project has succeeded in strengthening the company, which in turn led to increased farmer training and support, stronger internal management and administrative capacities and more effective cooperation between farmers and the buying/trading company. Yields for an incremental 5000 farmers are reported to have increased from some 500kg of seed cotton/ha to approximate levels of more than 720 kgs/ha. In addition rotational crops have been introduced. It is estimated that average farmer income has increased with some USD 500-700/ha. The activities in Tanzania have been evaluated by an external team of experts. The report can be accessed through the above link.
In Zambia, the counterpart was the Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ). The project was instrumental in increasing the reach of the CAZ in assisting and involving increased numbers of farmers in its awareness and training activities, up to levels of 32,000. Training focused on effective farming practices, crop management and achieving input reduction costs due to lower level of pesticide and other chemical usage. Also in the case of Zambia, attention was given to the possibilities of crop rotation and intercropping where feasible. Due to external influences, in particular drought and adverse weather conditions, the activities in Zambia could not provide straightforward results in terms of yield increases. There was, however, broad consensus that the introduced crop differentiation was effective in cushioning against lower cotton yields. Also the Zambia activities were subject to an external evaluation. The report is available through the above link.
The final project report as prepared by the Project Executing Agency can be accessed through the link Final Report.
Information about the project, its results and implementation arrangements can be obtained from Solidaridad at www.solidaridad.nl (Ms. Isabelle Roger, email@example.com)