4500 organic cotton farmers for 2006 envisioned in Kyrgyzstan
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Many cotton growers in southern Kyrgyzstan are joining an organic farming drive in the area, with numbers up almost six times since the initiative kicked off in 2003. This is reported by the Reuters Foundation and IRIN. The risk of failure was high and in the first year, the cotton yield dropped significantly. But in the second year the yield rate improved.
Switching to organic methods can also help farmers increase their income by selling cotton at higher prices but with lower costs. At the same time, they can avoid serious health and environmental problems that accompany mainstream cotton farming, with its heavy reliance on chemicals. In 2005, Kyrgyz organic cotton farmers were paid US $0.60 per kg of raw organic cotton, while traditional cotton growers were offered $ 0.40 at best per kg.
But the new method of cultivating cotton is not without its challenges. Mirzaakim Kurbashev Mirzaakim, a farmer from the Suzak district of Jalal-Abad, has grown organic cotton with his wife and eight children for three years now. He admits that it means more manual work in the field for his family, but he has broken free from relying on chemical fertilisers.
Organic cotton growing in Kyrgyzstan was initiated by the BioCotton project, supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Dutch Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (HIVOS). The project is implemented by Helvetas, the Swiss Association for International Development.
Since 2003 when the project was launched, 225 farmers have joined. In 2005, they produced 166 mt of raw organic cotton, soon to be shipped for export. By the end of 2003, the first 40 participants had produced around 25 mt of the commodity. The BioCotton project plans to recruit 4,500 Kyrgyz farmers in 2006 and increase the output of environmentally friendly cotton to 300 mt. By 2009, the project expects to hand over its activities to a locally owned private company which will provide services to the farmers and maintain the production and export chain.