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Burkina Faso Cotton Growers to Negotiate on Prices, Fertilizers

April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Cotton growers in western Burkina Faso, Africa’s biggest producer of the fiber, agreed to talks with the government to end a dispute over fixed prices and the cost of fertilizer, an industry labor union said.

Farmers in western Burkina Faso threatened to boycott the crop season this year unless the government more than doubles the minimum price it pays growers to 500 CFA francs ($1.12). The West African state raised the fee by 35 percent to 245 francs on April 25.

“Our members asked us to negotiate with the government to obtain a subsidy for fertilizers, which are the most expensive in western Africa, or an increase in the cost price” of cotton, Karim Traore, president of the National Cotton Producers Union of Burkina Faso, told reporters yesterday in Ouagadougou, the capital.

Cotton prices in New York have almost doubled in the past year because of a global shortage of the fiber. The price jumped by the exchange limit on ICE Futures U.S. yesterday, advancing 6 cents, or 4 percent to $1.5802 a pound.

Traore’s statement came after growers protested in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second-biggest city in the southwest of the country, where they demand the resignation of the management of Sofitex, the state-controlled cotton company.

The union leader yesterday held talks with Agriculture Minister Laurent Sedogo about the issue.

“The minister promised to send our demands to his superiors for discussion and we are confident that they will find a solution,” Traore said.

Burkina Faso produced 226,000 metric tons of cotton in 2008, the latest data available on the Food and Agricultural Organization’s website. The country is the world’s 11th biggest grower of the fiber, according to the United Nations agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Gongo in Ouagadougou via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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