Reportage: Burkina Faso: Collectives and Cotton
Landlocked, semi-arid and with few natural resources, the tiny West African country of Burkina Faso is one of the poorest places on earth. The majority of the country's people are subsistence farmers who are at permanent risk of hunger due to weak soil, deforestation and recurring droughts. Conscious that their land is a fragile, common asset, the men and women of Burkina Faso have gathered their collective force to fight against poverty and famine. Village collectives have revived ancient irrigation and planting techniques to increase their production of millet, sorghum and cotton, the country's only cash crop. In turn, they invest the profits of their group labor into development initiatives such as the creation of grain banks to protect against drought years, reforestation programs, education and other projects that improve the lives of villagers. The cotton producers' collective of Burkina Faso has been instrumental in developing the country's cotton industry, fighting against unfair trade practices and competing with economic superpowers on the global market.