One of the Cotton-4 countries

Cotton plantCotton became a large-scale crop in Chad during the twentieth century, when the French encouraged the growth of this cash crop in the south. It remains a key export, earning the country over 20 million dollars of revenue each year.

But investment is needed to introduce the latest techniques. New farming methods can help with soil fertility and water management. Cotton is an extremely thirsty crop, requiring over 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton (enough for one T-shirt and a pair of jeans).

A Cotton-4 Trip

Farmers from the cotton-growing countries of West Africa – Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad (known as the 'Cotton-4 countries') – have visited farmers in Australia to see new techniques and learn from the latest research how to get the best yields.

Improved seeds and better pest control can also boost harvests. However, care needs to be taken with insecticides and pesticides, because cotton farming is one of the world’s largest sources of agricultural pollution, damaging many environments.

Even if Chad’s farmers increase their cotton exports, they still face an uphill task to compete with Western countries like the United States. In the USA, cotton growers receive billions in farming subsidies. African farmers are estimated to lose about 300 million dollars each year because of the resulting lower prices on the worldwide market.