Saturday, October 12, 2013

Higher prices lure farmers, boost West Africa cotton output

West African cotton output is expected to jump 18.5 percent to 2,369,000 tonnes in the 2013/14 season due to increased planted acreage in top producing nations, data compiled by Reuters showed on Friday. The figure is 10 percent more than a June forecast issued before farmers began planting.

Increased farmgate prices, the introduction of genetically modified crops in top regional producer Burkina Faso and improved weather are luring back farmers and boosting output in a sector hard-hit by a market crash in the early 2000s. African producers and governments blamed the crash on subsidies received by farmers in competing growers such as the United States.

West Africa alone represents about 15 percent of the world's cotton exports, analysts say. Producers in the region aim to double output to about 5 million tonnes over the next 10 years to better influence world prices. Harvesting for the 2013/14 season is expected to start next month in most of the seven cotton-producing countries and to pick up from December.

Burkina Faso expects output to increase by 16 percent to 730,000 tonnes as farmers planted more fields late into the season. "In general, the season is looking good. We started off with some difficulties because of some pockets of drought but I think if the rains continue until the end of October, we will attain our objectives," said Yacouba Koura, vice president of Burkina Faso's national union of cotton growers. In Mali, however, authorities have revised the 2013/14 forecast down to 450,000 tonnes from 522,000 tonnes announced in June due to a delay in rainfall.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

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