Conservation Cotton Initiative

With support from luxury clothing brand Edun, TechnoServe is helping 8,500 smallholder cotton farmers in northern Uganda rebuild their livelihoods and recover from a destructive civil war. The Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI) aims to improve farmers’ cotton incomes by encouraging the adoption of better agronomic and post-harvest practices. CCI also links farmers to better markets and works with them to improve the productivity of staple crops.

Context

Much of northern Uganda was scarred by a decades-long civil war. From 1986 to 2006, the Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized the region forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and live in government-run camps for internally displaced persons, where disease, hunger and violence were rampant. When the conflict abated, many returned to their land with hopes of rebuilding their livelihoods by farming cotton, the area’s main cash crop.

Opportunity

Cotton thrives in many parts of Uganda and the sector has great potential to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. Yet the country’s cotton productivity remains lower than other major cotton-growing countries and generates low revenues in absence of value creation or processing. Cotton farmers can also be exposed to huge losses due to commodity price volatility. As a result, it is difficult for cotton to compete with staple crops like maize and beans as an income earner. By improving agronomic and processing techniques, forming farmer business groups and establishing market linkages, smallholder cotton farmers in Uganda can grow and stabilize their incomes.

Strategy

With support from luxury clothing brand Edun, TechnoServe is working with 8,500 cotton farmers in northern Uganda where farms had been abandoned as a result of civil conflict. The Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI) aims to improve farmers’ cotton incomes by encouraging the adoption of better agronomic and post-harvest practices, and linking farmers to better markets.

Additionally, the program is working to improve marketing efficiencies by building and strengthening smallholder cotton farmer business groups, and providing business development services and access to finance. The program aims to increase and enhance the competitiveness of the country’s overall cotton sector.

CCI also strives to improve production of staple crops such as groundnuts, maize and beans. A social component focused on drilling of boreholes, functional adult literacy, and village savings and loans association is being implemented in partnership with Invisible Children.

Results

As of December 2013, the Conservation Cotton Initiative has registered and organized more than 8,500 farmers into 150 farmer business groups and helped them generate more than $1 million in staple crop sales. In addition, the program has assisted more than 300 farmers in accessing loans worth $77,465 and 250 entrepreneurs in generating $93,000 by providing agricultural support services. CCI participants have drilled 12 new boreholes in their communities.

Partners

Founded by Ali Hewson and Bono in 2005, Edun is a global fashion brand bringing about positive change through its trading relationship with Africa, and its positioning as a creative force in contemporary fashion.