Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré opened the country’s first ever organic cotton ginning plant on Thursday, January 30, making it also a first for West Africa. The new plant, which can process 125 tons of cotton seeds per day, cost about US$12 million to construct, the majority of which is borne by the National Union of Cotton Producers of Burkina. The union has said that the new plant will contribute to female empowerment, as women represent some 58 percent of the cotton-producing sector.
Cotton production makes up 65 percent of rural revenue for Burkina Faso, which used to be the cotton-producing capital of West Africa, until it was recently overtaken by Mali. About 180,000 Burkinabe producers deliver 607,000 tons of cotton seeds per year, according to the Society of Fibers and Textiles. Of this, only 2 percent is used to create organic cotton; the remainder goes toward conventional cotton textile products.