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February 23, 2012

West African cotton production up, despite varying national trends

USDA analysis of the West African cotton sector suggests that while weather events have affected the area planted and cotton yields, this season’s cotton production ‘could be as much as a third greater than last year’s production level.’

There is a new (2011/20) region-level cotton strategy to improve the competitiveness of the cotton/textile sector.

The cotton companies raised the prices they paid to farmers for the 2011/12 season – at over FCFA 245/kg, or €0.374 (except for Chad, at FCFA 215/kg or €0.328). These prices were at a historic high.

These incentives have duly fulfilled their purpose in Mali, where production, even if it does not reach the targeted 500,000 tonnes, will nevertheless record a substantial increase.

In CĂ´te d’Ivoire production seems likely to exceed 200,000 tonnes by as much as 50,000 tonnes according to USDA estimates. This is due to high farm gate prices following a 26% increase in June 2011, combined with the October 2011 decision to ‘slash input prices for MY 2011/12 by 25%’ in order to boost farmers’ incomes. The number of farmers sowing cotton is estimated to have increased by over one-third.

In Burkina Faso, a planting boycott by farmers following a failure to secure a 174% increase in farm gate prices is likely to see production substantially below the government’s targeted level of 600,000 tonnes. Indeed, according to USDA projections poor rains are likely to see production of around 380,000 tonnes. While organic cotton production is growing in Burkina Faso (+162%) as a result of a partnership with the US retailer Victoria’s Secret, it remains less than 0.5% of total national cotton production.

Discontent on the part of Burkinabe cotton farmers in some areas calling for a higher price for their produce led to some 100,000 ha of the crop being destroyed

In Mali, despite efforts to promote production, late rains affected seed cotton production. Nevertheless, according to the USDA analysis, ‘production could be as much as 70 percent higher (410,000 tons) than MY 2010/11 (243,588 tons), reaching record levels not seen since MY 2006/07’. Local farmers remain interested in buying the Compagnie

Malienne pour le DĂ©veloppement des Textiles (CMDT). The handover of privatized companies in the Western and Southern regions to the Chinese company Yue Mei ‘is still expected to be finalized by December 2011,’ although USDA suggests the deal still may not go ahead.

In Chad, restructuring of the cotton sector continues. While the government hopes to see production of 60,000 tonnes of seed cotton, USDA believes that production is likely to be only 40,000 tonnes.

In Senegal, abnormal rains are likely to reduce projected cotton production to 20,000 tonnes (from a target of 50,000 tonnes), despite a 24% increase in farm gate prices and the maintenance of input subsidies. Despite the rise in prices paid to producers, production stagnated as a result of farmers mobilizing more slowly than expected, as a result of outstanding payments not having been resolved

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