Helvetas’ organic cotton programme started in Burkina Faso in 2004 with financial support from SECO(1) , ICCO(2), LED(3) and other partners. Its main objective is to promote organic and Fairtrade cotton from Burkina Faso on international growth markets so as to improve producers’ living conditions – especially those of women and small farmers – through a viable and sustainable mode of production.
It should be noted that the cotton industry accounts for 50-60% of the country’s foreign currency earnings and the area under cultivation is constantly expanding.
In 2008, organic cotton made up only 1% of total production, yet it involves 7,000 producers, 28% of whom are women. This initiative is managed by the Union Nationale des Producteurs de Coton du Burkina (UNPCB) which carries out the training and monitoring of organic producers. UNPCB implements an Internal Control System (ICS) which is necessary for the annual certification. Helvetas supports UNPCB’s work through organisational advice and knowledge transfer, and by establishing contacts with commercial and financial partners.
At the end of 2008, an impact study carried out by the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of Berne analysed the extent to which the living conditions of men and women producers had improved, as well as assessing the economic sustainability of the programme in the field.
(1) State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Switzerland;
(2) Interchurch Organisation for Development Co-operation, The Netherlands;
(3) Liechtenstein Development Service, Liechtenstein;