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article imageOrganic Cotton Offers Ugandan Farmers Hope

By Bob Ewing     Aug 13, 2007 in World
For the farmers of Northern Uganda hope may have arrived in the form of organic cotton seed and a cooperative that provides them not only with the seed but education and a market as well.
Organic cotton is bringing hope to farmers in northern Uganda. The hope is that this high demand crop will enable them to break the cycle of poverty that has plagued them for years.
Alex Okello and his family grow organic cotton. In 2005 Okello became aware that Dunavant Uganda was in the process of reviving organic cotton production and were offering growers incentives. Dunavant, an international organization, gives cotton farmers in the north outputs, teaches them new methods of farming and buys cotton from them.
The support, market and education that the Dunavant cooperative offered were sufficient enticement and Okello joined.
Sam Eyul Abila is the area coordinator for Dunavant and he says "Every farmer returning from Internally Displaced People's camps in the county wants to plant cotton. It was our lifeline. Most of us went to school on cotton money."
Okello, who is a resident of Aberidwago in Owalo parish, says that organic cotton is providing his family with sufficient income so that he was able to buy two bulls, an ox-plough, a bed, household utensils, and clothes for his family. Okello harvest three acres.
The increased income means, according to Okello’s wife Hilda Adongo, that they can now change their diet, pay school fees and medical bills for their children.
"This season we expect to build a permanent house. The price per kilogramme of organic cotton seed is likely to go up from sh500 to sh600."
In addition to cotton, the family is planting a variety of food crops (millet, maize, beans) and crop rotation enables them to increase their output. resulting in increased yields."
According to Sam Eyul Abila, he has 45 site coordinators working under his supervision and this season, he is inspecting 18,000 acres of cotton.
According to Abila there are 25-50 farmers in a group and they look after their gardens in their primary cooperative societies. Each cooperative society chooses its own leader.
The cotton seeds are provided by The Cotton Development Organization.
Northern Uganda has seen much violence over the past twenty years. If the violence does not return the farmers of the region may well be on the pathway out of poverty and heading towards prosperity.
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