Supporting Women, Revitalising Villages

28.06.2021

In the country of Côte d’Ivoire in western Africa, the CIDT cotton company is working to improve small-scale farmers’ living conditions by promoting their health, opening up access to education, and offering women special support. Since 2019, CIDT has been benefiting from co-operation with the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme (CCCP).

The woman in charge of implementing and supervising CmiA criteria at CIDT can be found in its department for sustainable development, where Haissata Kaba is the head of the department for projects and partnerships. She also oversees support activities for the cotton farmers, for their village communities, and for women as a group.

The CIDT cotton company wants to improve the lives of small-scale farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. Which successes have left the biggest impression on you in the past year?

Working with the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme (CCCP) is a big help. It has already allowed fantastic projects to be implemented. For example, a water pump was built in the village of Todeni (Mankono). The village residents, who used to have to walk a long way to get drinking water, now have clean water nearby. This lets them stay healthier and focus on their work and their families. In another project, an ecological school is being built in the village of Nawokaha. The special thing about this school is that the pupils learn about the agricultural aspects of planting and maintaining their own vegetable gardens in addition to the normal syllabus.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on all of our lives. How has it changed CIDT’s work and the lives of the farmers?

The Ivorian government introduced restrictive measures at the beginning of the pandemic, for example proscribing gatherings and intercity travel. This had an enormous impact on the economy. CIDT had to reduce its activities in the fields to a minimum. Demand for cotton for export cratered.

Haissata Kaba

Were special protective measures taken for the farmers?

Handwashing kits and disinfectants were made available in CIDT’s offices, and all employees received face masks. To protect the health of our cotton farmers, AbTF provided funds for the purchase of soap, disinfectants, and handwashing equipment. In addition, it provided us with informational material about COVID-19 and about the correct preventive measures so that the farmers could be offered training when CIDT’s agricultural consultants visited the villages. In this way, the farmers learnt about the dangers of SARS-CoV-2 and were able to protect themselves at work and their families at home.

What are the biggest challenges for sustainable cotton production during the coronavirus pandemic?

The anti-coronavirus measures have to be co-ordinated with the sustainable growing of cotton in Africa. This is not always easy because the work in the fields and commercial activities have been restricted. Nonetheless, we must find solutions that protect people’s health and are acceptable to everyone.

Looking into the future, how should the cotton industry evolve?

My wish would be for our cotton farmers to become confident and independent entrepreneurs who view their fields as capital. They should be able to independently predict their crop yields and also identify their risks. If they themselves are in a position to modernise their operations and to make their investments profitable, they can improve their own standards of living and those of their village communities. That would be a big step towards a better, self-determined life.