The editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal apparently is unaware that cotton is grown by millions of small farmers in China, India and Pakistan. Those farmers, perhaps numbering more than 150 million, are expanding production and acres devoted to cotton as world cotton prices rise.
Their experience stands in stark contrast to the small farmers in West Africa where cotton acreage has fallen and yields are declining. The farmers in West Africa realize perhaps 50 percent or less for their labors in cotton production than do farmers in most of the rest of the world. The struggles faced by the West Africans do not even prevail across their own continent as countries in East Africa are expanding cotton production.
The plight of the West African farmer should not be ignored, but only a change in the institutions controlling cotton in West Africa will bring better conditions for that region’s growers. Understanding the source of the problem is the first step to successfully addressing the situation.
President/Chief Executive Officer
National Cotton Council of America