- About Us
- Policy Center
- GAP Report® & GAP Index™
- Harvest 2050 Blog
How One Technology Is Making A Difference In The Lives Of Burkinabe Cotton Farmers
Farmers play a critical role in raising a wide variety of crops to feed and clothe our planet’s growing population. They battle challenges from weather as well as actively work to mitigate yield-robbing threats from insects as they work to bring more food and fiber to people. They are increasingly utilizing a range of agronomic practices to deliver a successful harvest. Modern day farm resources such as improved seeds enhanced through breeding as well as breakthrough applications of science, such as genetically modified (GM or GMO) crops, represent important tools in their everyday farming operations. These tools help them produce strong yields at the end of each season and offer novel ways to protect key fiber-producing plants, like cotton, from devastating insects.
Six years ago, farmers in Burkina Faso started broadly planting a new insect-protected cotton technology called Bt cotton (commercially known as Bollgard II®) which protects the plants from yield-robbing insects. Bt cotton is genetically modified to produce its own Bacillus thuringiensis proteins that kill pests such as bollworm, one of the most destructive cotton pests. Bt cotton technology has made a significant impact on the productivity of Burkinabe cotton farmers by enabling them to produce more cotton while reducing their reliance on insecticides.
In fact, insecticide spraying has been reduced by 60 percent, helping farmers realize significant health and environmental benefits. Burkina Faso has seen 30,000 fewer cases of chemical poisoning since the introduction of Bt cotton, which has improved the lives of thousands of farmers and agricultural workers. Meanwhile, cotton farmers utilizing the technology have been able to realize other benefits contributing to a better quality of life, such as less time spent in the field and less of the crop being wasted as a result of insect damage.
Today, 350,000 farms and about 3 million people depend upon cotton production and trade in Burkina Faso. From 2012 to 2013, cotton production increased by more than 57 percent and reached up to 630,000 tons. Farmers – including small scale farmers – have therefore seen their earnings grow up to 50 percent and their living conditions significantly improve. According to Traoré Karim, President of the National Union of Cotton Producers, technological advancements mean that cotton producers no longer struggle to afford the basic needs of food, healthcare and education.
Increased productivity, lowered risk in generating yield and improved health have turned Bt cotton into an unprecedented success story in Burkina Faso. Burkinabe farmers are now able to effectively address some of the biggest challenges the planet is facing: the conservation of land, water and energy as well as the improvement of farmer’s working and living conditions.