BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso – The United States Government supports the cotton sector in Central and West Africa through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) West Africa Cotton Improvement Program (USAID WACIP). The project covers Benin, Burkina Faso and Chad (along with Mali commonly called the C-4 countries) and Senegal. USAID WACIP is helping increase farmers’ income in cotton-growing areas and increasing the value of processed cotton produced by artisans and manufacturers. The project is implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).
During a formal handover ceremony held December 7, USAID WACIP provided the Société des Fibres et Textiles (SOFITEX) 43 personal digital assistants (PDAs) to support the ginning company’s development of an agricultural database. Authorities representing the governments of Burkina Faso and the United States attended the event.
Since 2007, USAID WACIP has provided financial and technical support to several partners in Burkina Faso – including SOFITEX. Through a grant agreement signed in 2011, SOFITEX received technical assistance from the enterprise Coton et Industries du Monde, Expertise et Service (COTIMES Afrique) to improve the ginning efficiency of its Banfora II factory. This project support helped to identify specific measures to assist SOFITEX and to provide appropriate software, equipment and additional staff training.
By the end of the 2012-2013 ginning campaign, the expected outcome of this investment is significant improvements in fiber yield, length and profitability.
During the ongoing crop year, USAID WACIP will support SOFITEX in setting up an agricultural database that will identify cotton farmers by entering all production parameters of their farming systems. Accomplishing this requires the establishment of a network using PDAs. SOFITEX’s extension agents will use the PDAs to record specific information related to production areas (farmer identification, production data, input management, agricultural credit, cooperatives’ debts, etc.) and transmit the information in real time to the Direction du Développement de la Production Cotonnière (DDPC). This will allow the DDPC to make decisions within a short period of time. In the medium-term, this investment is intended to enable SOFITEX to decrease the rate of cotton credit loan defaults among cotton farmers by creating a multi-user database management system for production and agricultural credit data, and to train managers and extension agents on the use of the system.
The activities to support SOFITEX aim to improve the company’s management by reducing losses and maximizing gains, increase the company’s income and empower the ginner to produce quality cotton that is more competitive in the global market.
Headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, United States, IFDC is a public international organization governed by an international board of directors with representatives from developed and developing countries. This non-profit Center, with more than 700 employees involved in projects located in more than 35 countries throughout Africa and Eurasia, is financed by several bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments.
IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries through the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.