Organic fair trade, Sustainable Development boxed text

Émile Noël's organic fair trade network in Mali for a new economic, social and environmental balance

Social and human development combined with sesame production.

At the beginning of the programme, the revenue from organic fair trade sesame was a secondary source of income for the Malian villagers, who found it useful to pay their local taxes. Over the years, it has become their main income source. It is a stable and adjustable revenue for the farmers depending on their annual growing commitment. This income source is protected by the robustness and continuity of the network created by and for Émile Noël.

Revenue that now benefits 100,000 people in the producers’ entourage.

Growing organic fair trade sesame has enabled the farmers to steer clear of other crops which require chemical fertilisers and pesticides and are subject either to price fluctuations in the international market caused by speculation and the economic climate or, on the other hand, to local and international subsidies. Once forced to sell a portion of their food crops in order to subsist, the producers can now keep all of their harvest. The Émile Noël programme has laid the groundwork for lasting economic development which enables numerous advances: literacy training, lodging (construction of homes and energy supply from generators and solar panels, water pumps, etc.), education (supplies, etc.) and more. There is an observable difference in the standard of living in villages associated with the sesame programme and those that are not.

The emergence of environmental responsibility.

As the creator of a new economic balance with Africa, we also promote environmental equilibrium by teaming with our Malian partners to support an initiative for reforestation and soil and resource reclamation in the areas where organic fair trade sesame is produced.

The objective is two-fold.
• The first goal is to enable the farmers to supplement the profits from their cash and food crops by developing a foresting industry.
• The second aim is to fully merge organic sesame farming with conservation and the rational use of natural ecosystems.

To date the project has made it possible to:

• Create, organise and furnish 20 nurseries in 14 villages.

• Train nursery volunteers and farmers in good reforestation principles, best practices in fighting soil erosion (windbreaks, quickset hedges, firebreaks, etc.) and the monitoring of planted plots.

• Produce and plant 50,000 seedlings in common areas and in organic fair trade plots: 80% of the seedlings were sold for 40 CFA francs per unit to sesame producers involved in the project and 20% to local administrative units to enclose school grounds and define parks.

• Diversify plant life (more than 21 different species) and their uses, notably with acacia (heating wood), baobab and shea (an income-generating plant: harvest and sale of fruit, food for residents), locust beans/néré (food), jatropha (anti-erosion hedges and potential use of seeds as biofuel for local energy).

• Establish "smart" regulations: prohibition of bush fires, clearing of new plots, abusive tree cutting (protected species, such as néré, shea and baobab).