June 15th, 2006 17:30 EST
USAID Provides $20 Million of Additional Funds for West African Cotton Improvement Program
WASHINGTON D.C. - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today an additional $20 million in funds for the West African Cotton Improvement Program (WACIP), designed to increase yields and incomes of cotton producers in West Africa. The announcement, highlighted during last week`s Fifth Annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, reaffirms the U.S. commitment to provide technical assistance for the development of the cotton sector in Africa.
The $20 million announced today builds on $7 million in previous funding provided by the U.S. Department of State and USAID. Collectively, the $27 million will be expended over a three year period, targeting the cotton-producing countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Senegal. Under the WACIP grants, the program will focus on key activities, such as:
- supporting policy and institutional reform for private management of the cotton sector
- improving the quality of cotton;
- establishing regional training programs for cotton ginners;
- strengthening a cotton biotechnology program;
- expanding the use of good agricultural practices in cotton-producing areas, including soil degradation and pest management; and
- improving relationships between the U.S. and West African agricultural research organizations.
Over the past two years, USAID -- in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of the United States Trade Representative, has collaborated with West African countries to strengthen development activities related to cotton. For example, in July 2004, key African Ministers of Agriculture and Trade visited the U.S. and participated in a U.S. cotton industry tour.
In September 2005, technical experts from West Africa met in Benin and agreed on nine interventions to be supported by the WACIP. During the summer of 2005, USAID, USDA and representatives from the private sector sponsored short-term training for soil scientists, entomologists and cotton ginners. Additionally, in January 2005, the U.S. Government, joined by the U.S. National Cotton Council, visited Mali to deliver an assessment report.
Cotton is an important part of the national agricultural and trade programs in West Africa. In fiscal year 2005, USAID funding for agricultural programs in West Africa was $28.6 million, and $140 million for all of Africa.
For more information on USAID`s work in agriculture, visit http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/agriculture/index.html.
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