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West African cotton production to surge

West African cotton production is set to bounce back, after weather damage in the previous crop, US officials said.

The US Department of Agriculture's bureau in Dakar forecast rising crops in the main West African cotton growers, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Chad, despite the region's top grower abandoning genetically modified seeds.

Production across the countries was seen at 1.9m tonnes in 2016-17, up 24% year on year, with production in Burkina Faso hitting record levels. 

Drought, rain damage

The cotton crop is recovering from last season's disappointing crop, when production fell 16% year on year, to 1.6m tonnes, falling short of USDA forecasts.

The Dakar bureau ascribed the drop in production to "late rains at the beginning of the season and heavy rains at the end of the season".

"This situation resulted in decreased cotton yield and seed cotton production in most of the countries," the bureau said.

Burkinabe production to rally

In Burkina Faso, the region's top grower, the bureau said "the beginning of the 2016-17 cotton planting campaign started well with enough rains.

"In mid-July, 90 percent of the forecasted area had been sowed."

The Burkinabe government expects production to reach 750,000 tonnes, up from 581,000 tonnes in 2015-16.

But in Mali, the second-ranked West African grower, "the beginning of the 2016-17 season was quite difficult due to the shortfall of rains leaving numerous dry areas and a delay in the sowing schedule".

"Therefore, Mali is most likely to revise regain its target (650,000 tons) but [the bureau] continues to believe that seed cotton production may not exceed 600,000."

Farmers reject genetically modified seeds

Farmers in Burkina Faso will not plant Monsanto's genetically modified Bt cotton again this season, the bureau said.

Burkina Faso is the only West African country to plant Bt cotton, which is resistant to boll worms.

Cotton producers are in dispute with Monsanto, over accusations that the short staple length has reduced the reputation of Burkinabe product.

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