The vicious circle of cotton farmers

I have written a lot about cotton in previous blogs, but I have to let out my frustration in writing about it once again.

Cotton is the main cash crop for farmers because of the possibility to get field inputs at credit (seeds, fertilizers, treatment products) from the cotton company. Farmers are then obliged to sell their production to this company. Prices of field inputs are fixed by the cotton company and the buying price of the cotton is also fixed by the same company.

All this makes the farmers slaves of this company and it makes them lazy: field inputs come to them and they do not have to look for a buyer for their production. This is the main reason why farmers do not look at other cash crops: peanuts, sesame, beans.

Very often the field inputs are of substandard quality leading to poor yields. In addition farmers use some of the fertilizer for other crops or sell it for cash, leading to an even lower yield. We know of farmers who sell the fertilizer they have got at credit for half its real value.

The cotton company organizes the farmers in groups. Credit is given and claimed back at  group level. It happens often that farmers do not get paid for their harvest because some other farmers of the group did not do well. This can create a lot of tension between farmers. Each year it is getting worse specially if the rains do not fall as expected.

My frustration is that it has been 20 years that we talk, explain, demonstrate to farmers that they are going down if they cultivate cotton and they are still doing it.

The way it is done today cotton impoverishes the soil and the farmers. I hope that the students we have at the LAP will be able to succeed where we have failed.

Amulet

Some farmers have fruit trees along the roads. To make sure that people passing by do not pick up the fruits, the owner puts amulets. Those are supposed to be dangerous for people picking up the fruits.

Citations of the week from Victor Hugo

True indulgence consists of understanding and forgiving the mistakes that one would not be able to commit.

Christian hell, fire. Pagan hell, fire. Mohammedan hell, fire. Hindu hell, flames. According to religions, God was born a roaster.

Take care of yourselves,

Hervé

 

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