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African cotton production resumes growth driven by international cotton prices

African cotton production is growing again, driven by international cotton prices According to “Youth Africa”, after five years of crisis, Africa’s cotton output …

African cotton production is growing again, driven by international cotton prices

According to “Youth Africa”, after five years of crisis, Africa’s cotton output has returned to growth, driven by higher international market prices. However, the cotton industry still faces a series of challenges such as restructuring, privatization, and equipment upgrading.

From 2000 to 2010, cotton production in French-speaking Africa plummeted from 1 million tons to 495,000 tons. Since then, the situation has reversed. For example, in Mali, cotton production increased from 103,000 tons in 2010-2011 to 171,000 tons in 2011-2012. The International Cotton Advisory Committee (LeComitéconsultatifinternationalducoton) predicts that the total cotton output in French-speaking Africa is expected to reach 619,000 tons next year, an increase of 25%. However, Burkina Faso, the largest cotton-producing country, will be unable to break the historical record of 750,000 tons set in 2005. Because many cotton farmers in the country have given up cotton and switched to corn and other crops. Nonetheless, this change is objectively conducive to the restructuring of the cotton industry and debt settlement. In addition, Cameroon is also encouraging cotton farmers to expand their planting area from 0.6 hectares to 1 hectare per household to expand production. It is expected that the total cotton output next year will exceed 70,000 tons. In view of the high cotton prices, the Geocoton Group, a well-known French company, also signed an agreement with Guinea in June last year and decided to return to Africa.

In recent years, cotton prices have increased significantly, even exceeding the highest level in 2005 before the crisis. The price of cotton per kilogram increased from 145 West African francs (about 0.22 euros) to 240-290 West African francs. However, Ms. Anne Legile of the Rural and Agricultural Development Department of the French Development Agency believes that increasing cotton prices cannot fundamentally solve the actual problem of the African cotton industry getting out of trouble and finally getting out of the trough. First, because the euro-dollar exchange rate is not conducive to French-speaking African cotton trading, and the reason for this is obvious. In the international market, cotton is priced in US dollars, while the euro is generally stronger and the US dollar is basically weaker. The West African franc is pegged to the euro and the exchange rate is fixed, resulting in the competitiveness of French-speaking African cotton being greatly weakened. Second, the economic strength of African cotton-producing countries is generally poor, and the industrial infrastructure is very weak. They are unable to invest more funds, cultivate talents, and improve research and development levels and application capabilities. Of course, Ms. Anne Legile also emphasized that from an ecological and environmental perspective, African cotton cultivation mainly utilizes the rainy season and has fewer insect pests. Compared with American and Indian cotton, the use of pesticides is reduced by half.

Regarding the current situation, agricultural experts from the French Development Agency pointed out that the top priority for the governments of African cotton-producing countries is to restore the confidence of cotton farmers. Because during the cotton price crisis, cotton farmers suffered heavy losses. Specifically, cotton prices plummeted, farmers’ income plummeted, and their payments were seriously in arrears. In addition, the privatization of the cotton industry has resulted in a large number of job losses, sharp social conflicts, and worrying prospects. For example, the Malian Textile Development Company (Compagnie Malienne Pourledéveloppement Du Textile CMDT) has been privatized for many years, but so far there has been no result, and the future direction is unpredictable. There is also Benin. As private companies enter the cotton industry, the ingredients become more complex and the original pattern from production to transportation is broken. In particular, freight accounts for a large proportion of the entire industry chain. How to regulate it is also a problem. Similarly, Burkina Faso has also opened up its state-owned cotton company, Sofitex, to welcome private investment and allow the establishment of private cotton companies. However, the government will continue to control cotton prices and encourage the planting of genetically modified cotton seeds (the current penetration rate reaches 60%). What needs to be strengthened is to promote the upgrading of the cotton industry to attract more young people to find employment.


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