My name is Kadia Diawara. I am a 46-year-old widow and mother to seven children. We live in Kouoro where we grow sesame to support ourselves. Our town is still young, but it shows great promise. In 2011, IFDC taught me and close to 100 other women important agricultural practices – practices that led to our harvest of about 5 to 6 tons of white sesame. This harvest was not only plentiful, it was also profitable. The quality was such that it earned us the record price of 400 CFA per kilogram from OLEA SARL, an exporter of sesame. It was then that we realized just how much could be accomplished if we pulled together.

Our organization had achieved a 2.24 million CFA turnover through the first trial period alone. These results made it clear to us that expansion was now necessary, so we formed the Badeyaton Cooperative. During our first official campaign as Badeyaton, some women earned 20,000 CFA, and others earned up to 60,000 CFA. This was a first for us, and our success brought over 1,200 women from over five villages to our cooperative. After the success of the 2012 campaign, we opened our own agricultural input stores with the support of the city council. Seeing this kind of growth has opened our eyes to exciting new possibilities. It is a perspective that has changed many things in our lives.

“We have to do it, not just for ourselves, but for our children.”

Kouoro’s sesame holds value to us for many reasons. One thing we are particularly proud of is that our crops are produced by women who have taken the risk to return to field schools and markets to learn, engage and deal with the challenges of food security, health and the education of our children. Oftentimes, it is exactly these women who bear the bulk of duties and ensure the welfare of the family. We have to do it, not just for ourselves, but for our children.

Education holds great value to all of us here in Kouoro. I wish to keep my own seven children in school, but whether or not I am able to do so depends almost entirely on the success of our sesame crop. I myself had to leave school in the fifth grade. However, this little piece of schooling left a huge impact on my life: I was appointed by the other women to manage our future input stores. I owe all this to my brief stay in school.

By educating our children, we can ensure a brighter future for everyone. But it is up to us to work together to do so. Seeing the success of our projects with Badeyaton has given me hope, and I am confident that through hard work and pulling together, we will accomplish these great things.