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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Ten Strategic Questions for African Cotton Sub-sector Support Initiatives to Address

Sahel and West Africa Club

Family agriculture in Africa appears to be far more vulnerable to price falls on international markets than in other countries, including in Europe and the US. This is linked to interconnections between cotton production and other economic sectors, inadequate policy reform, and the need to maintain diverse livelihood strategies at the household level in order to maintain income levels. How are farmers adapting their strategies to cope with the fall of the world price of cotton? Is there a case for national investment in and support for the regional textile industry for a given period until it can effectively compete with imported products? This merits a regional debate to be organised in order to identify a solution that takes into account the interests of the diverse actors in the African cotton sub-sector.

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