Le Comitéconsultatif international du coto recently predicted that the total output of francophone African cotton is expected to reach 619,000 tons next year, an increase of 25%. After five years of crisis, French-African cotton production has re-emerged as a result of rising international market prices, but the cotton industry still faces a series of challenges such as restructuring, privatization and equipment upgrades.
From 2000 to 2010, French African cotton production plummeted from 1 million tons to 495,000 tons. Since 2011, the situation has reversed, and cotton production in Mali has increased from 103,000 tons in 2010-2011 to 171,000 tons in 2011-2012. However, Burkina Faso, the largest cotton producer in Africa, will not be able to break through the record high of 750,000 tons created in 2005. Because many cotton farmers in the country have given up cotton and replanted corn and other crops. Nevertheless, this transformation is objectively beneficial to the restructuring of the cotton industry and also contributes to debt liquidation. In addition, Cameroon is also encouraging cotton farmers to expand their planting area from 0.6 hectares per household to 1 hectare to expand production. It is expected that the total cotton output will exceed 70,000 tons next year. In view of the high cotton prices, the well-known French company – Geocoton Group also signed an agreement with Guinea in June last year and decided to return to Africa.
In recent years, African cotton prices have grown substantially, even exceeding the highest levels in 2005 before the crisis. The price per kilogram of cotton increased from 145 West African lang to about 0.22 euros to 240-290 West Africa. However, Ms. Anne Legile of the Rural Development and Development Agency of the French Development Agency believes that the increase in cotton prices will not fundamentally solve the practical problems of the African cotton industry getting out of the predicament and eventually coming out of the trough. The reasons are mainly as follows: First, the exchange rate of the euro against the US dollar is not conducive to the French-African cotton trade. In the international market, cotton is priced in US dollars, while the euro is generally stronger, the dollar is basically weaker, West Africa is linked 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, the industrial infrastructure is very weak, and it is impossible to invest more funds, cultivate talents, and improve research and development and application capabilities. Of course, Ms. Anne Legile also emphasized that from the ecological and environmental perspectives, cotton cultivation in Africa mainly uses the rainy season, with less pests and less pesticide use.
In response to the current situation, the French Development Agency's agricultural experts pointed out that the priority of the African cotton-producing government is to restore the confidence of cotton farmers. Because the cotton farmers suffered heavy losses in the early cotton price crisis, the specific performance was that the cotton price plummeted, the income of cotton farmers plummeted, and the payment was seriously owed. In addition, after the privatization of the cotton industry, a large number of staff reductions were caused, social contradictions were sharp, and the prospects were worrisome. For example, Mali Textile Development Co., Ltd. (CMDT) has been privatized for many years and has not achieved results so far. It is unpredictable in the future. The reform of Benin cotton industry also encountered problems. As private enterprises entered the cotton industry, the composition became more and more complicated. The original pattern from production to transportation was broken. The freight rate accounted for a large part in the entire industrial chain. How to regulate this is also A big problem. Similarly, Burkina Faso has also opened the state-owned cotton company Sofitex, which welcomes private shares and allows the establishment of private cotton companies. However, the government will continue to control cotton prices and encourage the cultivation of genetically modified cotton varieties (currently 60%). It seems that African cotton-producing countries still need to vigorously promote the upgrading of the cotton industry to attract more young people to work.
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