Ivory Coast Sees Cotton Output Return to Pre-War Level on Prices

Ivory Coast expects cotton output to rise as much as 31 percent this season, nearing an amount last attained before a decade-long political crisis, after industry changes which may see farmers earn more for the crop.

Production is forecast at 300,000 metric tons to 340,000 tons in the season that started last month and goes to April 2013, Lacina Tuo, president of the Abidjan-based National Association of Cotton Growers and Ginners, known as Intercoton, said by phone on May 31. That compares with 260,000 tons grown in the 2011-12 harvest, he said.

“If we get rain at a good time, we should easily reach 340,000 tons,” Tuo said.

The West African nation, the world’s biggest cocoa grower, produced 350,000 tons of cotton before a military uprising in 2002 that split the country between a government-held south and a rebel-controlled north. Output declined to a low of 110,000 tons in 2008, Tuo said. Cotton is grown mainly in the north and central part of the country.

Ivory Coast reorganized the cotton industry for the new season, introducting a system that will see the minimum rate guaranteed by the government increased if prices are higher than forecast, he said.

Minimum Price

“We are trying to put the industry in order so as to encourage the farmers to grow again,” Tuo said. “Farmers will get a minimum wage but if the international prices are better than expected, they’ll get more,” he said.

The government’s minimum price for top-grade cotton was set at 265 CFA francs ($0.50) a kilogram (2.2 pounds), while the price for second grade is 240 francs a kilogram, Tuo said. The prices are similar to last season, he said.

Cotton for December delivery dropped 3 percent to 65.5 cents a pound by 10:45 a.m. in London.

Tuo said around 120,000 farmers may grow cotton this season, an increase from the 87,000 in the previous harvest.

“Many farmers want to get back to the fields to grow cotton,” Tuo said. “They believe again they can make money from cotton after 10 years of troubles in the sector.”

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