In Mali, food production and economic stability heavily rely on the production and exportation of cotton, after gold which covers up to 72% of the country’s total exports.
As one of the four top cotton producers in sub-Saharan Africa, Mali’s cotton farmers are considered traditional high earners. However, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 sent the price and production of cotton plummeting, as well as a crash in farmers’ earnings in the country.
According to the farmer’s association in Mali, Mali’s cotton farmers were able to produce 700,000 tonnes of cotton at the end of the 2019/2020 season, but production plunged to 147,200 tonnes in the 2020/21 season; a 79% drop. The hurtle in demand was due to constant strikes by farmers and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, the cotton industry in Mali has bounced back with the production of over 760,000 tonnes of cotton in the 2021/2022 season. These new figures place Mali as the top cotton producer on the African continent.
According to the government, record production was made possible by maintaining a subsidy on agricultural inputs, sustaining reduced shifts in the cost of cotton, among other initiatives.
Meanwhile, a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had forecasted Mali would be the largest cotton producer in Africa for the 2021/2022 season, followed by Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
Mali planted a record 795,000 hectares (ha), up 630,000 hectares (382%) from last year’s crop, the document noted.
In addition, the U.S. report explained that “Côte d’Ivoire also planted a record 460,000 ha, while Benin and Burkina Faso each planted more than 600,000 hectares this year.”