Burkina Faso cotton output soars 57.5 pct due to GMOs -producers

OUAGADOUGOU, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Cotton production in Burkina Faso, one of the first countries in Africa to approve genetically modified cotton, jumped 57.5 percent in 2012-2013 due to an increase in GMO crops, the producers’ association said.

Output for the year to end-January 2013 rose to 630,000 tonnes from 400,000 tonnes in 2011/2012 and exceeded the association’s expectations for 532,000 tonnes, the Burkina National Cotton Producers’ Union (UNPCB) said on Thursday.

Burkina Faso, which relies on cotton as one of its major exports, approved the planting of Monsanto’s Bt cotton GMO variety in 2008.

“Genetically modified cotton production is experiencing growth every year,” said Karim Traore, UNPCB president.

Burkina Faso’s top cotton producer, SOFITEX, collected 500,000 tonnes, 55 percent of which came from genetically modified crops, while the Gourma Cotton company collected 100,000 tonnes, he said.

The country’s greater-than-expected output could also boost the regional total for West Africa for the year. In an April survey in six West African countries, producers had forecast a 29 percent increase to 1,738,500 tonnes for 2012-2013.

Although an increasing number of farmers are turning to cotton in West Africa, production remains hobbled by a lack of agricultural technology and stiff competition from subsidised growers such as in the United States.

The Benchmark March cotton contract on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange was trading at 83.19 cents per lb, up 0.27 percent by 1612 GMT on Thursday.