Thursday, October 18, 2012

Agriculture: UN and Brazil sign $20 million agreement to help cotton farmers in developing countries

Cotton collecting centre in Brazil where separation from the seeds takes place before being compressed then stored. Photo: FAO/Alberto Conti

UN 17 October 2012 – A $20 million agreement signed today by the United Nations and Brazil will seek to transfer the expertise of the South American country to support cotton farmers in developing economies.

“This agreement represents an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of South-South cooperation between developing world partners as a vehicle for sustainable economic growth,” said the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, at the signing ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Rome.

Cotton is fundamental to the economies of many developing nations, particularly in West and Central Africa, where around 10 million small farmers depend on the sector for their income, according to FAO. As a result, the sector occupies a strategic position in the development and poverty-reduction strategies of a number of governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The four year project will target participating countries with technical assistance and training in best practice in cotton cultivation and marketing. Experiences, technologies and techniques acquired through the initiative will be captured and disseminated to promote further knowledge- and skills transfer, FAO said in a new release.

As one of the major producers of cotton in the world, Brazil also has considerable experience in devising new technologies for the cotton production chain, including through cooperative rural development efforts undertaken with other cotton producers such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali. The project seeks to capitalize on these experiences to strengthen the agricultural sectors in developing countries and foster cooperation on rural development.

Initially, the project will focus on Haiti and countries in the MERCOSUR zone (South America’s ‘Southern Common Market’), with the possibility of extending it to other developing countries in Latin America and Africa.

The Brazilian Cotton Institute will provide $10 million in financial support, while the Brazilian Cooperation Agency will supply an additional $10 million.

FAO’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean will contribute $200,000 worth of non-financial support, including the provision of expertise and technical information, as well as mobilizing its international networks in support of the project.