Cotton Production: Burkina Faso Wants To Resume Premier African Role

Huge incentives have been offered to farmers  to attain 836,000 metric tonnes this year.

After losing its place as Africa’s leading cotton producer to Mali in 2017/2018, the authorities in Burkina Faso have stepped up efforts to regain the country’s lost glory.

Radio France International, RFI on May 10, 2018 reported that last year’s cotton production dropped to 613,000 metric tonnes, thus the objective to attain 836,000 metric tonnes this year. Government and cotton producing firms have offered fertilizers and pesticides worth 16 billion FCFA to boost yields.

With the financial support of the World Bank and the national cotton producer, SOFITEX, local irrigation schemes will be constructed in cotton production areas to guard against droughts and other climate change effects. Similarly, cotton farmers will be covered by an insurance policy in the event of disasters.

The two categories of losses for the insurance cover cost 45,000 FCFA per hectare and 90,000 FCFA per hectare. Other measures to raise cotton productivity include increase in purchase price and stabilisation of prices of agricultural inputs.

Burkina Faso harvested an average of 333 kg of cotton per hectare in 2017/2018 – its worst since 1996.  This was attributed to the introduction of Genetically-modified Organism, GMO seeds in 2008 following a caterpillar pest in the 1990s. Despite using an integrated pesticide to fight the caterpillars, the Bollart II GMO seeds produced by the American firm, Monsanto, could not resist. Local farmers had no choice but to revert to traditional cotton seeds.

This failure by Burkinabe farmers was however a blessing in disguise to their Malian counterparts who since 2012 had been considering the introduction of GMO cotton seeds. They immediately discarded the plan, enabling them to surpass Burkina Faso’s cotton production in 2017/2018.

Last February, Mali officially became Africa’s leading cotton producer, taking over from Burkina Faso. According to the Malian Textile Development Company, CMDT, the country plans to produce 725,000 metric tonnes of cotton this year, thanks largely to better climatic conditions.

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