Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso MapBurkina Faso in Western Africa has 90% of its population engaged in subsistence agriculture. Sorghum, millet, corn and rice are grown as subsistence crops with cash crops including groundnuts, cotton seed, cotton fibre and sesame. Cotton is one of the few crops that is cultivated as a cash crop, exclusively for export purposes. Sugarcane has been introduced on a large scale and has also become a significant cash crop, while cassava, sweet potatoes and tobacco also generate noteworthy income. However, it is cotton,- known locally as white gold, is the most important cash crop, accounting for over a third of the country's exports. Cotton is a major pillar of Burkina Faso's economy representing 5-8% of GDP and about five million people, mainly subsistence farmers, depend on cotton production for their income.

Three varieties are grown in Burkina Faso (V12, FK 290, STAM 59 A and FK 37. The main cotton growing regions in Burkina Faso are in the southern region of the country namely- N’dorola, Kenedogou, Banfora, Comoe, Bobo-Dioulasso, Houet, Diebougou, Bougouriba, Hounde, Tuy Dedougou, Mouhoun, Koudougou and Boulkiemde. Cotton is sown from late May to the end of June under 100% rain-fed conditions, and is harvested from late September onwards.

The area under cotton was barely 2000 ha in 1952, but gradually increased to about 100,000 ha. by 1985, 200,000 ha by 1996, 300,000 ha by 1997, 400,000 ha by 2002 and finally 716,000 ha by 2006. The current area under cotton cultivation in Burkina Faso is about 450,000 ha. The productivity was dismally low at about 15 to 50 kg/ha until 1965, which increased to about 350 kg/ha by 1979 and thereafter has been fluctuating within a range 350-500 kg/ha. The current yield levels are about 400 kg/ha. The overall cotton production was about 1000 to 3000 metric tons until the end of 1965, but increased gradually to reach an all time high of 300,000 metric tons by 2005. The current production estimates range from 160,000-180,000 metric tonnes. There are about 20 saw ginning units in the country. About 99% of the cotton produced in the country is exported and the domestic consumption is confined to extremely small pockets within the country.

Burkina Faso approved commercial cultivation of Bt cotton in 2006. The commercial Bt cotton was first planted in 8,500 ha during 2008 which increased to 115,000 ha in 2009 It is estimated that the area under Bt cotton may increase to about 80% of the total cotton to be planted during 2010. Researchers at Burkina Faso's National Agricultural Research Institute (INERA) are working on projects primarily on breeding and agronomy for drought tolerance and enhanced yields. They have recently tested Roundup Ready-Flex herbicide resistant cotton from Monsanto.

Burkina Faso is consistently increasing its production of organic cotton. With 2000 tons, it has now become 10th largest producer of organic cotton in the world Insect pests and droughts are the two most significant constraints for cotton productivity in the country. The main insect pests in Burkina Faso are Helicoverpa armigera, whiteflies and aphids. Breeding for drought resistance could be particularly relevant in Burkina Faso where droughts are common. In general nearly 7-8 insecticide applications are being used in Burkina Faso for the control of bollworms. With appropriate interventions, it is possible to overcome the constraints faced by the sector.

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