Français | English

Tuesday, May 30, 2023


36.5 C
35.2 C
33.1 C




Mali: farmers postpone the cultivation cotton

The fall in the price of cotton and the rise in the price of fertilizer have angered farmers. From Koutiala to Yorosso, the producers have decided to postpone the cultivation of cotton this year. In the cotton fields, farmers have sown corn and millet.

Mali, African champion of cotton production in 2018-2019 with a record harvest of more than 700 000 tons, thanks to good a rainfall and especially thanks to the effort made by the State which subsidizes fertilizers and facilitates access to credit. This year, the campaign is under serious threat due to the increase in the price of fertilizer and the fall in the price of cotton mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Koutiala, the quintessential cotton producing area, several producers, like Karamoko Dembélé, say they no longer see the point of growing cotton this year. Aged 80, his hamlet in Léléni is located 32 km from Koutiala, in the south of Mali. The old man has been growing cotton for 60 years. He produced “34 tons of cottonseed” the previous season. Nine times the best national producer of quality cotton, Karamako Dembélé aimed higher at the 2020-2021 campaign already underway. “I planned to grow 20 hectares of cotton. All arrangements were made for two tons of cottonseed per hectare or 40 tons”, said Karamoko Dembélé known as Léléni Karamako.

The one who is taken for example by the Malian Company for Textile Development (CMDT) has finally postponed the cultivation of the “white gold”, a few weeks before the first rain. A difficult decision taken following the fixing of cotton and fertilizer prices by the authorities and the farmers’ umbrella organizations at the end of April.

“This year, we decided to drop cotton”

In fact, the CMDT and the government took farmers on the wrong foot with the drastic fall in the price of cotton and the rise in that of fertilizer. From 275 FCFA, the government fixes the price of cottonseed at 250 FCFA this year and the fertilizer goes from 11 660 FCFA to 18 405 FCFA. Deeming the cost unbearable, Karamako decides to postpone the cultivation of cotton for the very first time. “We will have absolutely nothing when we cultivate cotton under these conditions. Many farmers are already in debt. Several Village Associations (AV) were unable to pay the old debts. Lowering the price of cotton and raising the price of fertilizer to this level is unsustainable. Five bags of fertilizer are recommended for one hectare, to which is added pesticides and seed. If we persist in cultivating cotton, we will not get out of it and we will sell all our properties to pay the credits of fertilizers”, fears the old man.

Knight of agricultural merit in 1981, knight of the order of agricultural merit in 1995 and officer of the order of agricultural merit in 2011, the octogenarian is categorical: “even if the price of cotton is reviewed at 500 FCFA, I have no more fields to sow it”.

Karamoko Dembélé is not the only farmer to give up the cultivation of cotton this season. Grouped together in a movement called “Uyeco” which means in “Miniaka”, “Let us join hands”, producers of the Yorosso and Koutiala circle decide together to boycott the 2020-2021 campaign. The issue was decided at the General Assembly on June 13 in Wolobougou near Koutiala. “We cannot cultivate cotton at 250 FCFA with this increase in the price of fertilizer. It’s not possible. This year, we decided to drop cotton”, said Bourama Goita, one of the spokespersons for the Uyeco association.

In the Koutiala and Yorosso localities, the cultivation of cotton benefits farmers for the production of cereals. Indeed, cotton allows farmers to have fertilizer also for millet and corn fields. The abandonment of cotton fields could therefore impact cereal cultivation. But the farmers say they have made all the arrangements. “Today, there are traders who sell fertilizer cheaper than the CMDT. We will take advantage of this to pay for fertilizer for our corn and others”, Mr. Goita consoles himself.

Among the rare people who have already sown cotton, is Mohamed Daouda Diarra known as Dioro Madou. Seedlings are visible in his field located about fifteen kilometers from the city of Koutiala. Cotton cultivation is an obligation for him. “The tax on my fields is 1 426 535 FCFA. Also, the government gave me a tractor on credit. I have about sixty mouths to feed too. Growing cotton gives me fertilizer for my corn and millet field”, he said.

Cotton is a key element in Mali’s economy and is the country’s second largest source of export earnings after gold. The contribution of the cotton sector to GDP is estimated at 15%. For the economist Modibo Mao Makalou, “we must push the negotiations, everything must be done so that cotton growers can cultivate if it is not too late, because it is not cotton only, through the CMDT which makes integrated cultivation from start to finish, supply from fertilizers to the export of finished, semi-processed products. Cotton is used to produce dry cereals. The fertilizers come together and then, it is the CMDT which also makes it possible to do the logistics in relation to the cereals. It provides the fertilizers of cotton, but also of cereals and it harvest them, “he said. After having been several times in cotton-growing areas, the economist estimates that “if it was up to the Malian farmers, they would directly cultivate the cereals but, they cannot do it, because it is cheaper for them to associate it with cotton.

Causes of the breakup

The fall in cotton prices is due to the coronavirus disease, according to the president and CEO of the Malian Company for Textile Development. According to Pr. Baba Berthé, the pandemic is lowering world cotton prices. “This is an exceptional year for the cotton branch in Mali and, beyond that, I would say of the branch in Africa. We are left with the consequences of an illness that we cannot control. However, when you look at our fiber, it is 98% intended for export, there are parameters that we no longer control. Prices are set from the outside and even in real time, the price of cotton is not set in Mali. We produce cotton, we don’t set the price. Materials are affected by this phenomenon of falling world prices”, justifies the CEO of CMDT.

Economist Modibo Mao Makalou goes in the same direction. “The global supply chain has been disrupted, which means that supply and demand have been disrupted and gone down a lot. This has had a major impact on commodity prices. Since the beginning of this year, in January 2020, the international value of cotton has fallen by 20%. And you know, it’s the income, the international price of cotton that goes into the pocket of the Malian farmer. So when it drops, his income goes down by 20%, so you can understand that they are in disarray”, he explains.

Since the 2008-2009 campaign, the Malian government has subsidized fertilizer. The drastic increase in its price is due to the suspension of this subsidy for two major reasons, according to Pr. Baba Berthé, CEO of CMDT. “The fertilizer is subsidized, but there were some difficulties during the last season. The first is that we faced some kind of speculation around subsidized fertilizer here. They were found in neighboring countries. The second difficulty, with the problems of the north, the State has difficulties in mobilizing resources. As a result, it has been four years since the fertilizer subsidy isn’t fully reimbursed by the State. The CMDT which orders in year N-2. The 2020 order was launched in 2018. If the order is launched in 2018 based on the needs expressed by the producers, obviously by announcing in the 2020 budget, a provision which does not cover all the quantities ordered, that poses us a problem. And it has been four years that the Treasury has not been able to repay the entire subsidy of Mali”, regretted the head of CMDT.

Professor Baba Berthé says he is aware of the deficit that the new prices may cause for producers, many of whom “are already in debt”. But fearing the disproportionate consequences of the abandonment of cotton in the concerned areas, the head of CMDT invites the farmers to review their position. “Produce cotton, not for the money it will bring in, but for the possibility it gives you to acquire fertilizers for cereals. When you have fertilizers for cereals, it protects you from starvation. There is no situation for a head of the family than not having food at home. That’s the only reason I asked them to go ahead. Maybe you won’t make money this year, the CMDT itself won’t make money this year, but do it because it gives you the ability to feed family members. It is understood by some and not by others”, insisted the president of CMDT.

Affected sectors

The suspension of the crop will have consequences for the Malian economy. It also threatens employment in public structures as well as in the private sector. Livestock feed production will also be affected. “Since 1994, our country has experienced real average growth of around 5% of GDP, but with covid-19, we are experiencing fairly difficult economic conditions, the fall in international prices but also the fall in the price of the barrel of oil. When the price of the barrel of oil declines, it means that synthetic products are becoming cheaper and it is these synthetic products that compete with our organic cotton”, worries Modibo Mao Makalou.

For many observers, it is urgent to contain the covid-19 pandemic quickly and to revive the economy immediately to allow the rural sector to reorganize and continue its growth.

Finally, on June 25, 2020, the Prime Minister decided to maintain the subsidy on fertilizers by selling them “at the same prices as last season”. Thus, the 50 kg bag of fertilizer is sold to producers at 11 000 FCFA in cash and 11 658 FCFA on credit.

*Produced with the support of the Sahel Program of IMS, funded by DANIDA.

PS: To information websites and portals, does not authorize the full recovery of articles. Please direct your readers through the redirect link to read the rest of the paper. Otherwise, reserves the right to sue before the competent courts.