For the third consecutive season, cotton production in Burkina Faso has plummeted, settling for the past season to 436,000 tons, instead of 800,000 expected. A drop of nearly 30%, which now places Burkina fourth among African white gold producers.
Unlike gold, which continues its flight, with more than 52 tons produced in 2018, Burkina Faso’s cotton looks gray. While the 360,000 cotton farmers were counting on a crop of 800,000 tons, the harvest will have been much leaner. Production for 2018-2019 was 436,000 tonnes, down 29% from the previous season.
This is a drastic decrease, compared to the 2017-2018 (613,000 tonnes) and 2016-2017 (682,940 tonnes) campaigns, but still above the annual average of 38,444 tonnes collected between 2007 and 2011.
Burkina Faso in fourth place
The underperformance of the Burkina cotton sector, which is partly due to the vagaries of the weather but, above all, the boycott of producers in the cotton belt (Kénédougou, Boucle du Mouhoun), now places Burkina Faso in fourth place producers on the African continent behind Benin, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.
But it is not the weather alone that has failed. “Terrorist attacks in the east of the country have impacted production. Many farmers have abandoned the field treatment, fleeing growing insecurity. This situation has been aggravated by a sudden cessation of rains, “Yacouba Koura, vice-president of the Burkina Faso National Union of Cotton Producers (UNPCB), told Jeune Afrique.
Another factor advanced by producers was the poor quality of inputs and inappropriate technical choices, which greatly depressed yields per hectare, which dropped from 697 kg to 672 kg.
“Since producing cotton, yields per hectare have never been so low. In my opinion, this decrease is mainly due to the parasitic attacks on cotton farmers and the poor quality of inputs, especially fertilizers, “says François Traoré, former president of the UNPCB, which harvests an average of 100 t / year of cotton-seed.
Insecurity and indebtedness
Scarred by the loss of income recorded during the previous campaign, many farmers in the major cotton regions, heavily indebted, had to turn their backs on cotton during the 2018-2019 campaign. As a result, more than 200,000 hectares have not been planted. According to our information, the amount of unpaid co-operatives could exceed the 20 billion CFA francs mark.
Faced with this situation, the Association of Cotton Professionals of Burkina (AICB), the tripartite sectoral management body, announced several measures to “mobilize producers”.
The cotton companies (Sofitex, Socoma and Faso Coton) have announced their willingness to clear the outstanding payments, with the State having released approximately 14 billion CFA francs to subsidize inputs. This boost reduces the price of the MPK bag of fertilizer by 1,000 CFA francs to 14,000 FCFA. In the process, the purchase price of cotton increases by 15 F CFA to 265 F CFA per kilo against 250 F CFA before.
For the next season, however, the AICB maintains its goal, many times missed, of 800,000 tons. “Thanks to the measures taken, to the announced pesticide change and with a good installation of the rains, we hope to reach the production target,” says Yacouba Koura.