By the end of the 1997/1998, which corresponds to the 4th year of market liberalization, the major sources of cotton production in Tanzania by social category of producer were determined, and the producers' market behaviour and their general perceptions of the outcome of liberalization were examined. There was almost certainly a substantial production response in 1995/1996 over 1994/1995, but it seems unlikely that this response has been subsequently amplified as liberalization has continued and as monetization of cotton sales has been institutionalized. While the decline in 1997/1998 was mainly the result of adverse weather conditions, the underlying cause for stagnation is based on a failure to shift towards more optimal farming methods, and a significant decline in non-labour input use, following a monetization of inputs supply. The ability of co-operative societies to retain market share is likely to weaken in the future, since with credit-based input supply no longer being undertaken, loyalty will lose most of its rationale. Possession of land and cattle, amount of area under cotton cultivation, cotton sales volumes, co-operative membership and marketing behaviour are all socially stratified along lines of oxen ownership/non-ownership. Little or no differentiation of farming methods based on this pattern of social stratification could be detected.
Burkina Faso in Western Africa is one of the poorest countries in the world with 90 percent of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. Where possible, farmers are producing cotton as a cash crop, accounting for more than 50 percent of all exports in Burkina Faso. However, cotton production in Burkina Faso is susceptible to frequent drought and insect infestations that can often result in damage to up to 90 percent of the crop. As a result, cotton production is highly dependent on insecticide treatments to control these pests. To provide growers with more options for insect control and potentially greater productivity in the field, Burkina Faso began field trials and evaluations with genetically modified (GM) or transgenic cotton crops in 2003. If approved for commercial use, Burkinabe farmers are expected to benefit from less labor, less pesticide spraying and increased income. Source: Interview with Dr. Ouola Traoré, Monsanto Company, 2008.
By growing organic cotton, farmers no longer use agrochemicals, which are often expensive and can harm the environment and health of the farmers. But as organic production has increased, so has the exploitation of local plant species used to control pests. Realising that their increasing exploitation of useful pest control species from the wild was becoming unsustainable, farmers from Yanfolila (a MoBiom community) approached the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) to help them domesticate a number of the natural pesticide species they use.(New Agriculturalist, 02/2011)
A crucial condition for the ‘high dose/refuge’ strategy to delay the evolution of resistance to Bt crops in pest populations, is that, to be efficient, the inheritance of resistance trait should be functionally recessive. A team of researchers from the Institut de Recherche pour le Dévelopment (IRD, France), ICIPE (Kenya) and North-West University (South Africa) tested the nature (allelic dominance or recessiveness) of the inheritance of the resistance trait. Results show that resistance of B. fusca to Bt corn is dominant, which refutes the hypothesis of recessive inheritance. Survival on Bt corn was not lower than on non-Bt corn for both resistant larvae and the F1 progeny from resistant × susceptible parents. Hence, resistance management strategies of B. fusca to Bt corn must address non-recessive resistance. FR article: http://www.ird.fr/toute-l-actualite/actualites/des-chenilles-africaines-resistent-au-mais-ogm Journal article: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069675 (IRD, 04/09/2013)
This study presents results from a farming systems comparison trial in India, conducted by researchers from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FOAG Switzerland and bioRe Association, India over a four-year period. Investigating a cotton-soybean-wheat crop rotation under biodynamic, organic and conventional (with and without Bt cotton), researchers observed a significant yield gap for cotton between farming systems in the first crop cycle which levelled out for wheat and cotton due to lower yields in the conventional systems in the second crop cycle. Gross margins from conventional systems where 30% higher in the first crop cycle, whereas in cycle 2 gross margins in organic farming systems were significantly higher (+25%) due to lower variable production costs but similar yields. Soybean gross margin was significantly higher in the organic system across the four harvest years. Future research needs to elucidate the long-term productivity and profitability, particularly of cotton and wheat, and the ecological impact of the different farming systems. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0081039 (PLOS ONE, 12/2013)
Biodegradable agricultural waste blends developed by Greg Holt, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USA and colleagues at the USDA’s Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit in Texas, are being used by the packaging industry in a new process that 'grows' made-to-order packaging products to protect breakable goods during shipping. The proprietary process involves combining cotton gin waste and fungi inside a cast, resulting in a spongy-looking material similar in appearance to polystyrene foam. The custom-shaped end product provides a cost-effective 'green' alternative to extruded polystyrene foam packaging. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2013/131209.htm (USDA ARS, 09/12/2013)
Burkina Faso has commercialized Bt cotton, making it the third African country after South After and Egypt to join the ranks of biotech crop countries. Burkina National Agricultural Research Institute (INERA) and Monsanto recently signed a commercial agreement paving way for the importation of Bt cotton seeds to be grown for seed multiplication. Where possible, farmers are producing cotton as a cash crop, accounting for more than 50 percent of all exports in Burkina Faso. However, cotton production in Burkina Faso is susceptible to frequent drought and insect infestations that can often result in damage to up to 90 percent of the crop. To provide growers with more options for insect control and potentially greater productivity in the field, Burkina Faso began field trials and evaluations with genetically modified (GM) or transgenic cotton crops in 2003 (Source: Africa Science News Service, Burkina Faso, 12 July 2008).