As African Cotton Investments Increase, Not Everyone Benefits

A cotton field. Trisha Downing

The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) has announced plans to set up an incubator program in Cameroon to support the growth of the country’s cotton and textile industry.

The project will focus on improving sustainability and added value in the cotton industry, and will do this by providing training, technical support, mentorship, and coaching to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and already established micro SMEs, Business in Cameroon reports.

Cameroon aims to boost its yearly cotton production to 600,000 tonnes by 2025, placing it in the same league as other high cotton-producing countries on the continent, including Benin, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

In April, Côte d’Ivoire received a €68.5 million ($83.48 million) investment from France to boost cotton production over the next five years. Côte d’Ivoire’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the investment will target 120,000 cotton farmers in the northern region of the country and boost revenue in the cotton sector, benefiting the Ivorian economy, according to a Reuters report.

While cotton production is proving lucrative for some countries, cotton farmers in Zimbabwe say the government-owned Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) still owes them about 1.5 billion Zimbabwean dollars ($4.14 million) from last year. Zimbabwe’s Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairperson, Stewart Mubonderi, told NewsDay Business farmers were worried this season would see a repeat of the past, when cotton farmers were given groceries as payment, rather than cash.

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