Story No 5:
Mike Woodward says... This is both an exciting and challenging time for organic cotton production in Nicaragua. For decades cotton was Nicaragua’s leading export. Then mono-cropping and ever increasing applications of fertilizers and pesticides destroyed cotton production in Nicaragua. For almost two decades no cotton was grown in Nicaragua.
Then in 2007 we began producing organic cotton in small, commercial volumes. We worked with the Nicaraguan government to establish policies that promoted the use of sustainable techniques in all cotton production and organic production wherever possible. Since our first crop in 2007 we have never exceed 200 hectares of production. Due to certain provisions of the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States running out in 2014, the Nicaraguan government has launched an aggressive program to promote the production of cotton in Nicaragua on a large scale. As part of that program, we are poised to plant 850 hectares of organic cotton and 1275 hectares more in transitional cotton.
This is great news as we have a market much larger than what we have been able to supply until now; but it also brings challenges to the production of organic and environmentally sustainable cotton. Nicaragua’s need to produce cotton in order to support and maintain its 95,000+ worker garment industry also brings heavy pressure to let producers slide on the strict standards we have been promoting for the last six years. There is tremendous pressure to allow large growers to plant vast extensions of cotton, rather than producing many small fields with small and medium size growers. Large growers are now harvesting the first conventional crop produced here since 1990. Only 1100 hectares were planted, but we are already seeing the appearance of the boll weevil.
We continue to meet with the government and the large growers to look for a way forward to meet the needs of all.
Jubilee House Community partners the Centre for Development in Central America (CDCA) http://www.jhc-cdca.org/
Jubilee House Community