COTTON: Cotton spray men and women pickers trained in Pakistan
The WWF and IKEA joint cotton projects in Pakistan work hard to train spray men and women cotton pickers to help them use safer, healthier and more sustainable practices in the fields. More than 1.400 spray men and around 800 women in the Punjabi districts of Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Toba Tek Singh have benefitted from over the past few months alone.
Pesticide spraying is almost exclusively a job for men in rural Pakistan. The spray men training sessions have educated farm workers in how to identify and proportion pesticides and raised their awareness of international conventions, the side effects of pesticides, how to take precautions and how to apply them appropriately when necessary.
Cotton picking is usually women’s work, and the cotton pickers’ training was conducted as part of the curricula for the projects’ Women Open School. The aim was to raise their awareness of the related health and safety issues as well as teaching them how to pick “cleaner” cotton. Simple measures help the women avoid contaminating the cotton with debris and such in order to raise the value of the harvest and improve farmers’ earnings. The women also received training on all the activities related to the Better Cotton Initiative “decent work” criteria.