The Price Of Cotton (Mali and USA)

This film portrays cotton farmers Abrahim Coulibaly from West-Africa and James Machan and his family from Texas are in competition with each other on the world market.
Gradually the differences and similarities between these two farmers become clear.
The film shows the initiatives of people who are trying to change a system of agricultural subsidies that hurts them. Ibrahima Coulibaly, who also is a representative of the farmers union of Mali, the AOPP, feels trapped, not only because the market is unfair but also because it was imposed on him. He is an angry man. Angry at the US, at the WTO, at the politicians in his own country who don’t dare to take courageous measures.
We follow him from the field of his dusty native village, to the village of Molobala where he meets with the poor cotton farmer Sedou Dembele, to the capital of Bamako were he works in the AOPP office. Sedou Dembele is the pars-pro toto of the average Malinese farmer of his region. Since cotton is the only available cash crop, Sedou is lucky if he actually makes his one dollar a day. Ibrahima talks to him and encourages him to take steps to take more control and develop himself.

In the USA we meet the Macha’s. At first they seem to be the opponents of Coulibally. Felix and his wife Monica are retired cotton growers in Texas They live in the little town of Woodrow near Lubbock. Their sons Steven and Jimed, who took over the 3000 acres of cotton from their father, live next to them. Felix is 83 years old but still helps his sons when they need him. We visit their irrigated fields and huge cotton picking machines. We see his sons at work. Their concerns are about paying for an expansive health insurance, paying college for their kids, investing in new machines, trying to make as much volume as possible in order not to be pushed out of the market. They tell us how they experience the critics on the subsidies. They also are angry and frightened. Their argument is that their costs are higher and therefore they need some compensation, to stay competitive. They say they need the subsidies to stay in business. Therefore they support the National Cotton Council to lobby for them in Washington.

Producers: Alexandra Jansse & Joost van Loon 2005
Director and script: Karin Junger
Series director: Alexandra Jansse
Camera: Edwin Versteegen
Sound: Mark Wessner
Editor: Patrick Janssens
Music composer: Orlando Gough

• A Dollar a Day” is broadcast in The Netherlands, India, USA, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Middle East, Africa, Belgium, Greece ea.
• Film festival China (Guangzhou); World Social Forum Nairobi 2007 Slum Cinema screenings.
• Distributed by Off The Fence and World Bank.
Outreach campaign and website by the Center of Global Development Washington with this series!
ThiemeMeulenhoff Publishers educational program for high schools GEO method with this series.
Location: Mali and USA, 2005
Themes: Cotton, Fair Trade, World Trade Organization, Agricultural Subsidies, Market Price, Agriculture, Food.