Africa is yet to tap into the multi-billion-dollar cotton market

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The Global cotton industry continues to grow in leaps and bounds, with consumption estimated to reach an unprecedented record of 27.5 million tons in 2018-2019, but the continent has yet to utilise its full potential in the sector.

According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), global consumption will hit an all-time growth rate of 4 percent by end of next year, while the industry value is also projected to reach over $60 billion.

In spite of the projected increase in consumption, world production is expected to grow at a slower pace than consumption during the forecast period due to the falling price trend in the international market.

However, despite a huge potential for cotton productions, the continent is still behind in this growing sector. In West Africa where cotton can be grown in all countries in the region, production is still centered in a few nations such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal.

Mali is the largest producer in the 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 it.

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.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cotton remains important for the economies of: Benin; Burkina Faso; Chad; Ivory Coast; Mali; Senegal; and Togo –  providing 30 percent of total export earnings for Mali and Chad and more than 50% for Burkina Faso and Benin.

Last year, total cotton production for Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal was estimated to rise 18 percent to 1.8 million metric tons (MMT) due to a higher area and good yields, but this is still way short of the continent’s production potential.

In 2016 global cotton exports were worth $52.77 billion, a decline of 6.4% from the year 2015. China is the largest exporter of cotton in the world and it exported USD 14.96 billion worth of cotton in the year 2016.

ICAC said, with this strong consumption, global reserves are expected to slump by 1.6 million tons to 17.7 million tons at the end of the season. In terms of world prices, it said A index (average of the day’s cheapest five quotations on the Far East’s physical market) should stand at 87 cents per pound in 2018/2019.

Some of the major cotton producing countries in the world include China, India, Pakistan, and the USA.



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