Published: April 24, 2016
Burkina Faso, Africa's top cotton producer and the sole West African nation to venture into biotech farming, is dropping genetically-modified (GM) cotton on quality grounds.The world's 10th largest cotton producer, with four of its 19 million people dependent on the "white gold", Burkina Faso earlier this month said it was giving up Monsanto's GM Bt cotton because it had proved uneconomical.
Burkina took up GM cotton in the 2000s in the hopes of bumping up returns on what was then its top export product, surpassed in 2009 by gold.
But the country's association of cotton producers now say GM cotton, though producing higher yields, has caused a drop in crop quality.
"The cotton fibre we are producing today is short," Burkina Faso's new President Roch Marc Christian Kabore told AFP this month.
Fibre length is key in textiles with longer ones tending to produce stronger yarns because they allow fibres to twist around each other more times, also enabling higher spinning speeds.
But the shorter fibres now being produced from Burkina's GM cotton "means that in market terms it's an activity which is no longer very attractive for us," the president said.
The government, he added, has taken steps "to underpin the sector ... and help producers."