Growing Season: 2011-12
Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda
General Staple Lengths: Short, Medium & Long
No. of Producer Groups: 9
No. of Farmers: 25,584
No. of Women Farmers: 6,625
Organic Cotton Production Area: 38,821 ha
Seed Cotton Production: 21,721 mt
Fiber (lint) Production: 8,922 mt
Bales (US) of Cotton Lint: 40,952
Cotton is an important agricultural export product in many African countries. Organic cotton production in Africa is often initiated by aid development organisations as well as private companies from the textile sector. A common feature often found in African organic cotton projects is that they combine innovative approaches to farmer participation with strong social programmes. Furthermore, almost all, if not all West African organic cotton producers are Fair Trade certified as well. Cotton production and productivity levels vary considerably among African countries (e.g. yield in Tchad is 0.6 metric tonnes per hectare on average compared to Niger where it reaches 1.95 metric tonnes per hectare).
Southern and Eastern Africa
Southern and Eastern Africa is the largest organic cotton production region in Africa. The following Southern and Eastern African countries produce organic cotton: South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In the past Uganda has regularly been the largest producer of organic cotton fibre in Africa. This position is now occupied by Tanzania due to the many political issues (including the anti malarial policy) that is currently affecting the organic sector in Uganda. Organic cotton production is currently being trialled in Kenya and efforts are underway to regenerate interest in organic cotton in Zimbabwe.
In West Africa, organic and / or Fairtrade cotton production is centred in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Mali is the largest producer in this region followed by Burkina Faso, Benin and Senegal. Although cotton production in Africa is not significant on a global scale, a large number of African countries remain heavily dependent on cotton. For example, cotton accounts for 60 percent of foreign exchange earnings in Benin and is also of great economic importance as an agricultural export product for Burkina Faso.