During the summer 2018, we were chosen by Salvaterra to conduct the evaluation of Équité 1, first edition of a program supporting the development of Fair Trade in West Africa, and implemented between January 2016 and March 2019 in 5 countries (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo), for Burkina Faso and Togo. Explanations and narrative.
Two specificities of this program followed by (Fair Trade France (CEF) and on the field by Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders (AVSF) and FTA-WAN, financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environmental Facility (FFEM), were to encourage the autonomy of producer organizations, which could present their own projects themselves, and to articulate fair trade and agroecology.
In Burkina Faso and Mali, I visited the main cooperatives concerned, which were involved in the following sectors: shea butter, cashew nut, fruits (mainly dried mangoes), often diversifying their production and activity with sesame and Hibiscus sabdariffa for the bissap.
The final evaluation of the Equity 1 program showed very positive results in terms of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability. In concrete terms, the program enabled producer organizations to improve their structure, develop their technical and commercial capacities, with targeted training given by national operators. It also allowed them to invest in actions with a high environmental and economic impacts.
The production of shea butter, a product that is increasingly appreciated in cosmetics, is a tradition activity of Burkinabe and Malian women that is traditionally quite lengthy and energy intensive, as it involves steps such as: drying, extraction of almonds, roasting and churning. The program has allowed coops to streamline this process and close its material and energy loops. The same is true, with a circuit a little shorter, for the use of cashew shelles for the extraction of almonds that you usually find as apetizer. The mango cooperatives could make use of the compost produced from the damaged fruits.
Through the Equité program, many producer organizations have taken a significant step forward, and are now more ready to assert themselves in international markets, and also with their traditional buyers, even as they are labeled organic and fair trade. In most of the countries involved (Burkina Faso, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo), a National Fair Trade Platform (PNCE) has been structured or strengthened to coordinate certain actions targeting producer organizations.
After a feasibility study for a second part of this program, over 5 years, there is hardly any doubt about the added value of fair trade for a socially and environmentally sustainable development in West Africa!