Photo: Jörg Böthling


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Burkina Faso is Africa’s biggest cotton producer. Monsanto, the US biotech giant, had its grip on cotton cultivation with its genetically modified seed contracts for almost ten years. But problems occurred and farmers demanded a return to traditional cotton. Whether they stay GM-free is doubtful.

Cotton is back! That’s the message Wilfried Yaméogo wants to tell the world. Wilfried Yaméogo (photo on the right) is head of Sofitex, the largely state-owned cotton company that controls 80 per cent of the cotton industry in Burkina Faso. And business is booming. Never before have farmers been producing so much cotton. There was a particularly successful harvest in 2016–17 with a total yield of more than 600,000 tonnes. Burkina Faso has reasserted its position as Africa’s number one in cotton production. “Thanks to our switch back to a hundred per cent conventional cotton cultivation,” explains Yaméogo.

Burkina Faso took its landmark decision at the end of 2016: “We say no to genetically modified cotton. We say no to Monsanto.” So has this small country in West Africa managed to chase away Monsanto? Has it forced out the giant corporation that, for many, is the very epitome of big business using its market power to deprive people in developing countries of any prospect of genuine development?

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