Project success as 200 Ethiopian farmers become the first to produce certified organic cotton in the country
Since 2013, with financial support from TRAID and in collaboration with PAN-Ethiopia, our project in southern Ethiopia has provided training for over 2000 smallholder cotton farmers. Training in our Farmer Field Schools demonstrates the benefits of good crop husbandry, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques and soil improvement without the use of expensive and hazardous pesticides. On the 26th December 2017, 200 of these farmers gained organic cotton certification – the first in the country!
Heavy pesticide use has led to serious impacts on health and the environment. Globally, nearly 1,000 people are estimated to die every day from acute pesticide poisoning. Many more suffer from chronic ill health, including cancers, neurological diseases and infertility. The majority of fatalities and ill health is experienced by farmers in developing countries where regulation is weaker and protective equipment is less available. By learning to farm sustainably farmers in Ethiopia are achieving higher yields and experiencing fewer health problems. In addition, bees and insects are starting to return to their fields, bringing the whole ecosystem back into balance and opening up other sources of income, including the sale of honey.
Organic cotton production requires confident, well-trained farmers who have gained crop and pest management and problem-solving skills. By working with PAN, our farmers are now achieving yields over 100% higher than untrained farmers in the same area and the price obtained per kg of cotton has increased by 77%.
Sheila Willis, Head of International Programmes at PAN UK said, “The farmers involved have made the most of the training provided. It is to their credit and the brilliant team in Ethiopia that they are the very first in the country to secure organic accreditation for cotton. We anticipate that this will bring them new opportunities to market their high-quality product. The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and the local agricultural departments in the project area has been very supportive of this initiative and we look forward to working closely with their extension services to share experience with many more farmers in future.”
We’re very proud of the hard work undertaken by everyone involved in this project and look forward to seeing more of our farmers reaching organic accreditation. We would like to see big brands supporting farmers in these initiatives and encourage the general public to buy organic cotton whenever possible.