Burkina Faso Cotton Farmers Refuse to Plant Seeds Over Price

About 8,000 cotton farmers in Burkina Faso, Africa’s largest producer of the fiber, are refusing to plant the crop for the 2011-12 harvest after their demands for a higher price weren’t met, according to a regional growers’ union.

The farmers come from the country’s west and normally sell their cotton to Societe Burkinabe des Fibres Textiles, known as Sofitex, said Abou Ouattara, president of the Houet provincial growers’ union that represents 13 provinces in the West African nation, by phone from Bobo Dioulasso, the second-biggest city, today.

Farmers staged protests earlier this month to demand payment of 255 CFA francs ($0.55) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton, more than the 245 francs set by Sofitex and the country’s two other cotton companies on April 26, Nouhanga Bonzi, a spokesman for the demonstrators, said May 23. They also called for fertilizer costs to be cut to 13,200 francs per 50- kilogram bag, from the current price of about 16,000 francs.

The government and cotton growers couldn’t afford to meet the demands, said Prime Minister Luc Adolphe Tiao in a statement on state-owned television yesterday.

“We will carefully study their complaints to bring concrete answers next season,” he said.

Sofitex, which is Burkina Faso’s biggest cotton company, will “wait and see” how many farmers heed the call to boycott seeding for the harvest, said Helene Traore, a spokeswoman.

Burkina Faso plants its cotton seeds from June to mid-July and reaps the fiber between October and April. The industry employs 17 percent of the country’s population of 16.3 million, according to the U.S. State Department.

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