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September 22, 2008

Benin cuts cotton harvest forecast further

Benin's 2008/09 cotton crop will fall short of forecasts that have already been revised downwards due to bad weather, a government official said on September 19.

The harvest in the West African country was estimated at more than 310,000 tonnes, which would exceed last year's crop of 268,054 tonnes, but be well below the original forecast of 500,000 tonnes which was then cut to 384,000 tonnes.

"The performance of cotton production compared with the forecasts is predominantly due to weather conditions," said Aly Bouco Imorou, Secretary General of the agriculture ministry.

Benin is one of West Africa's leading cotton produces, but its harvests have recently been much lower than its estimated 600,000 tonne capacity. Cotton cultivation in the region is suffering from high fertiliser costs and bad weather.

Mali estimates it will produce less than half a previous estimate, Ivory Coast is expected to fall short of 250,000 tonne estimate, and Central African Republic last year produced less than 1,000 tonnes.

In May this year, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, who has pledged to revitalise the former French colony's economy, raised the mandatory farm-gate purchase price to 210 CFA francs per kg for the 2008/09, up from 180 CFA francs in an effort to stimulate growth.

Benchmark cotton prices as set in New York closed at 64.55 cents per lb on Friday, having lost 10 percent in the past twelve months. Global production is forecast at 24.7 million tonnes by industry group the International Cotton Advisory Committee.

Reuters

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