March 6, 2013 – COTONOU, Benin – The United States government supports the cotton sector in West and Central Africa through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) West African Cotton Improvement Program (USAID WACIP). The program covers Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, commonly known as the C-4 countries, plus Senegal. USAID WACIP is helping increase producers’ income in cotton-growing areas and increasing the added value of cotton processed by artisans and ginners. The project, which began in 2006, is implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).
To meet one of the project objectives of increasing artisans’ revenue in the targeted countries, USAID WACIP conducts artisanal activities with its technical implementing partner, Aid to Artisans (ATA), which recently joined forces with Creative Learning, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.
To support artisans, USAID WACIP is organizing its first Artisanal Textile Exhibition in Cotonou, Benin, (March 22-24) with the participation of nine artisanal enterprises from Benin, Burkina Faso and Chad. The Artisinal Textile Exhibition will be held at the Marina Hotel in Cotonou and will feature handmade home décor and fashion product collections.
The exhibition will introduce and expose participating artisans to new regional markets and strengthen their ability to develop new textile products independently. This will eventually lead to the creation of new sustainable market links and generate sales opportunities for all beyond the life of USAID WACIP. Therefore, the exhibition presents a unique business opportunity for the artisan enterprises to increase their income and consequently improve their livelihood.
Since 2007, artisans have received technical assistance from ATA in business skills and management, export regulations and requirements, new product development and the use of eye-catching colors and designs. ATA has also trained artisans in modern textile production methods, methods of adapting locally woven fabrics and measures for identifying and reducing occupational and environmental risks. In addition, supported artisans have participated in several local, regional and international trade fairs where they were able to display and market their products.
The project’s results are remarkable. Today these creative men and women, talented in craft production and promotion, offer the world their best collection of handwoven texiles such as bogolan, appliqué and batik, as well as home décor and fashion accessories.
Since the inception of USAID WACIP, more than 700 new cotton products have been developed, generating more than US $1,000,000 in sales within local, regional and international markets.
For more information about USAID’s WACIP activities please visit www.wacip.org
IFDC, headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center, with over 800 employees involved in projects that span more than 35 countries in Africa and Eurasia, is supported by various 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.
Djènèba Kéïta Millet
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