Cotton in West Africa

The Economic and Social Stakes

image of Cotton in West Africa

In West Africa, approximately 16 million people depend directly or indirectly on cotton cultivation. But subsidies in the developed world have suppressed cotton prices and have made it difficult for West African producers to compete.  Compounding the problem, WTO negotiations on the problem have been suspended.  This publication contends that the dialogue between developed and developing countries on this topic must continue. It sets out the regional stakes linked to the economic and social importance of cotton in West Africa. It retraces the consultation process on the West African cotton crisis with the aim of finding a negotiated solution acceptable to all parties. Also discussed are the challenges and the measures that need to be taken over the medium and long term in order to prevent this sub-sector’s sudden collapse.

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Sahel and West Africa Club

This review shows that cotton continues to have a critical role in producer livelihoods, agricultural development processes, national economic development, maintaining foreign exchange revenues for a large number of West African countries and in the contribution of access to services and poverty reduction. Further field level analysis would be useful to determine the evolving place of cotton in producer livelihood strategies and poverty reduction in the context of price pressures, volatile international markets and privatisation, and to identify the concrete diversification opportunities emerging.

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