Support the revitalization of the cotton production in Guinea Bissau
Our intervention took place during five years from 1995 to 1999 under a contract with the French Company for the Development of Textile Fibers (CFDT). The CFDT had been mandated by the government of Guinea Bissau to revitalize the production of cotton in the east of the country. This followed the activities carried out by a rural development project.
In 1995, the activities of the project was split out in two. Support to food crops and rural development was passed on to Portuguese technical assistance while a dedicated entity, the "Unidade de Gestaõ Alogodoeira (UGA)" was created to carry out all the activities linked to cotton production. The CFDT was in charge of the management of the UGA in collaboration with the Ministry of agriculture of Guinea Bissau. The UGA benefited from funding from AFD and the European Union.
We provided operational management for the UGA and our mission covered:
Technical support for cotton producers;
The organization of the purchase and transport of raw cotton;
The management of the cotton ginning unit located in Bafatá;
The execution of sales contracts for fiber and cotton seeds;
The administrative and financial management of the UGA;
The relations with administrative authorities and the government of Guinea Bissau;
The reporting and relations with donors.
Support to cotton producers
A team of extension officers has been recruited, equipped and trained. Their tasks were to:
Conduct meetings in all villages to assess the previous cotton campaign and explain the modalities of the upcoming one;
list the intentions of cotton cultivation for the upcoming cotton crop;
"piqueter" (to measure and materialize) all the future cotton plots;
Supervise the maintenance of sprayers, the dispatch of seeds and inputs in the villages as well as their distribution to producers;
Manage the provision of credit for cultivation tools;
Train producers to Good Agricultural Practices and organize field demonstrations, monitor the farming operations and observe in parasite pressure;
Carry out capsule counts and harvest estimates;
Supervise cotton purchases and support the evacuation of raw cotton to the ginning plant.
Purchase of raw cotton and reinforcement of farmers' organizations:
To secure the development of the cotton production in Guinea Bissau, we sought to involve producers in the operational management of the value chain.
Thus, the UGA supported the establishment of producer groups. The UGA organized the transfer of the responsibility for purchasing raw cotton to these groups. They were trained to the management of cotton markets: physical organization of the markets, tasks of the different actors (weigher, ticketer and quality controller), handling of scales and weighing the cotton, keeping record, accounting and finance management, etc.
On these market the raw cotton was purchased individually with different prices according to its quality (1st choice, 2nd choice and rejection). The quality of the cotton was determined for each producer, on the markets. The cotton from the various producers was mixed inside the truck at loading, but cotton from different groups and from different qualities were isolated. Trucks were weighted at their arrival at the factory. A quality control of the entire truckload was carried out by an UGA agent in the presence of a producer representative.
Cotton was paid to farmers group on the base of the weight at factory and the group paid each farmer individually. As the factory weight was always different from the total of farmers' individual weights on the market, groups applied an additional tare of 1 kg per tarpaulin to be sure that different was always be in favor of the farmers. An excess weight was therefore generated for each truck and paid by the UGA to the group. This amount was added to the commission paid by the UGA to each group in retribution for the management of raw cotton markets and the loading of the trucks.
The training and coaching of groups' leaders also focused on the transparency of the management of these resources and their use.
The rapidity to purchase, remove and pay the cotton to producers is an essential factor of cotton production sustainability. To achieve this, the UGA had its own fleet of five trucks that enabled them to transport around 30% of the cotton . The UGA contracted private carriers from Bafatá and Gabu to evacuate the rest of the cotton to the factory before the first rains arrived. These vehicles also delivered to the villages the seeds and the inputs necessary for the following crop. As much as possible trucks were loaded with these goods when they left for the villages to load cotton.
The UGA operated a classic ginning factory completing the necessary resources required for the cotton chain in Guinea Bissau. This plant was equipped with a 158-saws ginning unit and a high-density press allowing the conditioning of the cotton to international standards. A 350-kVa generator powered the factory. Seed cotton silos, a garage and warehouses for the fiber, seeds and fertilizers completed these facilities. A small team of permanent employees took care of the general maintenance between two seasons. During the ginning period, they supervised the numerous seasonal workers operating in two 12-hour shifts. The capacity to process all of the cotton before the rains come is an essential condition for the sustainability of cotton production in Guinea Bissau.
To complete the independence of the cotton sector in Guinea Bissau and speed up the fiber export process, we installed a grading room and organized the training of a grader to classify bales of fibers in Bafatá. This classification, confirmed by the Quality service of SODEFITEX in Dakar, served as a basis for the execution of fiber sales contracts.
Fiber and seeds were marketed through the CFDT. Fiber bales were exported via the port of Bissau in containers loaded at Bafatá. The seeds were exported in bulk from Bissau.