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Version: 1.0
(mai, 2008)

Growing Indigo

In 2004 the Federation reintroduced the cultivation of indigo to its members (especially women’s groups) with the aim of improving the hand-processed cotton products with the additional of natural dyeing.

Reintroducing this plant was difficult, since lots of water is needed during its first stage of growth (20l/day/100 seeds for 6 weeks), and agricultural techniques new to the area are needed (nurseries). For other crops, rainfed agriculture is traditionally carried out with sowing taking place directly in the field.

With indigo, it is difficult to sow directly in the field mainly due to short periods of drought during the rainy season.

Nurseries are created at the end of May or in early June, and then the indigo plants are transplanted into fertile soils in mid July.

In September/October, the first harvest of leaves is carried out. The leaves can be picked twice a year, for two consecutive years.

It takes and hour for one person to harvest 3kg of fresh leaves (about 1kg of dry leaves)

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The fresh leaves can be used straightaway for natural dyeing or transformed into compost (ground and dried in balls) to be used later on.

The level of production remains low since it is difficult to irrigate the nurseries in this area.

In 2007, about 20 members of the Federation harvested 200kg of dry leaves. The Federation bought the production (at 1000 F/kg) with the aim of developing natural dyeing as part of the organic cottont hand processing chain.