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Version: 1.0
(mai, 2008)

Traditional spinning

Spinning is carried out exclusively by women, and is particularly reserved to old women who possess the ancient skill.

The activity is disappearing since cards (brushes) which had been introduced by colonists are becoming rare.

In 2003, a designer from Dakar was interested in the traditional spinning of organic cotton.

A present, about a hundred women produce roughly 40kg/month with 15 pairs of cards. They only spin part-time, after grinding millet, preparing food, doing housework, washing the children etc. They earn between 3000 and 3500 F CFA /kg, which is barely 1700 F CFA a month on average, for about 30 hours of work.

There are several qualities of yarn, notably the ngessé (fine yarn) which takes 4 times as long to spin as falé (thick yarn).

New results with the introduction of spinning wheels

The spinning wheel allows women to increase their productivity: to spin the same amount of yarn takes half the amount of time needed when spinning by hand.

Despite the introduction of spinning wheels, spinning still takes a very long time: up to 150 hours to spin 1 kg of fine ngessé using a wheel.

If we want to professionalise the activity to develop an export market (there is demand for hand-spun products in France and in the USA), it is essential to increase the price paid to the spinners for their yarn.

How can we justify paying these women 30 F an hour, when the final product made from their yarn is sold for tens of thousands of CFA francs?