U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman have announced the launch of the West Africa Cotton Improvement Program (WACIP) aimed at the cotton sectors of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Senegal.

The program is based on an assessment conducted earlier this year by the U.S. Agency for International Development and USDA experts on ways to improve production, transformation and marketing of cotton in the region.

“We are pleased to announce the allocation of $7 million — $5 million in fresh funding — to begin the work of this program,” says Secretary Johanns.

To complement this program, Secretary Johanns and Ambassador Portman also announced that the National Cotton Council, which will be a key partner in the WACIP, intends to provide assistance in West Africa during the cotton harvest on recommended measures to control insects and the application of biotechnology.