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July 04, 2009

Ivory Coast introduces new variety cotton seed

Cotton production in Ivory Coast may increase by as much as 41 percent in the 2010-11 harvest as the country introduces a new seed variety for planting.

Output for the 2009-10 season, which runs from May to April and peaks around November, is forecast at 170,000 metric tons, up from 125,000 tons last year, Nicolas N’Guetta, president of the national association of cotton growers and ginners, or Intercoton, said in Abidjan.

“After that, we expect production to increase further as we will introduce 65 tons of a new seed variety for the 2010-11 harvest,” N’Guetta said. The seed will help raise output to 240,000 tons in 2010, Yo Tiemoko, the director-general of Ivory Coast’s National Agricultural Research Center, was cited as saying by RTI, a state-owned television broadcaster, on June 26.

Cotton production in Ivory Coast fell 41 percent between 2002 and 2007 because of political instability, poor-quality seeds, falling world prices and the high cost of fertilizer, according to the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook. The U.S. Foreign Agriculture Service ranks the West African country as the eighth-largest cotton producer on the continent, and the 27th biggest worldwide.

The new cotton-seed variety was developed over two years by the government’s agricultural research center and financed by the European Union.

“Growers are being informed about and introduced to the seed, but yields will still depend on resources and weather,” N’Guetta added.

The cotton industry is awaiting a government decision on subsidies after it asked the Agriculture Ministry for 12 billion West African CFA francs ($25.7 million) to help absorb the shock of the increasing cost of fertilizers.

“We’re told we will receive 10 billion CFA francs, but we’re still waiting for them to get back to us in an official capacity,” N’Guetta said. “Fertilizers need to be available by February at the latest.”

Before a civil war between 2002 and 2004 in which the cotton-rich northern half of Ivory Coast was seized by rebels, annual production averaged around 350,000 tons.

Agriculture accounts for about 19 percent of gross domestic product in the country, which also produces cocoa, rubber and cashew nuts, according to the African Development Bank.


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