Enhancing Sustainability of Cotton Production Systems in West Africa: A Summary of Empirical Evidence from Burkina Faso
Africa has been hesitant to adopt agricultural biotechnology, lagging behind global trends over the past decade. One exception is Burkina Faso, a West African country that commercially released 125,000 ha of Bt cotton in 2009. Bt cotton may serve as a working example of how African countries can enhance sustainability using modern, science-driven technology to increase production levels while reducing input use and energy consumption. This paper reports the potential impact that Bt cotton can have on sustainability in Burkina Faso’s cotton sector based by summarizing empirical evidence from previously published studies. Based on the summary of published data collected from six years of field trials and producer surveys, Bt cotton increased cotton yields by an average of 21.3% and raised income by $106.14 per ha. Using an energy balance model, the introduction of Bt cotton would also result in a 6.6% saving in energy use. The significant increase in productivity and economic returns could be the catalyst for Burkina Faso, and other African countries, to emerge from the decade or so of stagnation and regain their competitive stance in world cotton markets while providing environmental and social benefits.
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