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Agricultural Training for Smallholder Farmers

The focus of CmiA's work in the project countries is on supporting the participating smallholder farmers to continuously improve their skills in cotton cultivation and create a sustainable foundation for cultivation through compliance with CmiA criteria. To achieve this goal, we organize training courses with our partners in which farmers learn efficient and environmentally friendly cultivation techniques so that they can increase their crop yields and thus their income. An important aspect of CmiA sustainable farming techniques is maintaining soil fertility through crop rotation and creating compost pits to produce organic fertilizer. 

Schulung auf einem Baumwollfeld

A challenge in cotton cultivation in Africa is the often heavy and improper use of pesticides and fertilizers. The pesticide compounds are misused, improperly stored, and disposed of, among other reasons because no one in the family can read and therefore cannot follow the instructions on the packaging labels. This can both endanger the health of farmers and their families as well as harm the environment. For this reason, the proper handling of pesticides is an important topic in agricultural training. Their use is subject to strict guidelines. For example pesticides on the lists of the Rotterdam Convention on the procedure for hazardous chemicals and pesticides (PIC Convention) or the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Convention) are prohibited.  Also prohibited are pesticides that have been classified as extremely or highly toxic by the World Health Organization (WHO class Ia/b). Any violation of the guidelines will result in exclusion from the Cotton made in Africa initiative.

CmiA operates on the threshold principle which means a pesticide will only be used on a field, when the impact of pests on the field is measurably too high. With this approach not only is the use of pesticides reduced, but farmers learn to distinguish pests from beneficial insects step by step and how to use them for cultivation. Overall, communicating the proper and safe use of pesticides (application, wearing protective clothing, proper storage and disposal of empty containers) and distinguishing between pests and beneficial insects are an integral part of training for the CmiA smallholder farmers.

Another central topic of training content is the efficient use of rainwater. Fresh water is generally not used on the fields during cultivation according to CmiA criteria. Through training, smallholder farmers furthermore learn how to use fertilizers efficiently and thus consciously and how to make compost pits to create organic fertilizer. Based on one kilogram of cotton fiber, CmiA thereby emits up to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to conventional cotton and saves more than 2,100 liters of water compared to the global average. Get to know more.