The first ever organic cotton certificates in Ethiopia have been distributed to 200 cotton farmers in three districts of the Awash River basin in the country’s Rift Valley region where yield have risen 100 per cent and price per kg of cotton has risen up to 77 per cent. This project is being funded by the fashion reuse charity TRAID, supported by the Pesticide Action Network UK and was delivered in-country by PAN Ethiopia.
Organic cotton production in some parts of Ethiopia have raised controversy in the past due to accusations of land grabbing issues but this project is based in a different region of the country from where earlier, issues were reported. The venture was started as an integrated pest management (IPM) project. Over 2,800 cotton farmers in Ethiopia are currently involved in this project. Around 200 cotton farmers in Ethiopia are the first ever in the country to receive organic certification of their crop which was overseen by Control Union as part of an on-going project with fashion reuse charity TRAID, Pesticide Action Network UK, and PAN Ethiopia.
The project trains ‘lead’ farmers, who then provide support to 10 ‘follower’ farmers in their area. Farmers are trained in soil and water health, ecological pest management principles and learning to grow other crops along with cotton.
Maria Chenoweth, CEO, TRAID said, “Since 2009, TRAID has committed nearly £1 million to support cotton farmers to stop using hazardous pesticides and use safer more sustainable alternatives. In Ethiopia, the farmers involved in this project will now get the organic premium for their cotton and are the first in the country to do so. It’s a hugely significant moment and the project is well on its way to more farmers becoming accredited.”
Tadesse Amera, Director, PAN Ethiopia says, “The project has helped farmers to achieve yields higher than those in conventional farming and has reduced agro-chemical dependency and its related negative human health and environmental impacts.”