Burkina Faso: Monsanto packs up and goes out the door

In an e-mail sent to his friends and collaborators, Doulaye Traoré below (photo), the representative of Monsanto in West Africa, based in Bobo-Dioulasso, announces that the American firm specialized in pesticides and GMOs “Decided to suspend its activities in Burkina Faso”, with the exception of “those relating to regulatory aspects” – such as ongoing tests on transgenic maize, carried out with researchers from the Institute of Environment and Agricultural Research ( INERA).

Contract termination

Traore says he himself terminated the contract that bound his firm, Tho & Gniré, to Monsanto on September 22. Other Burkinabè agents of the firm have been signified the breach of their contracts in recent days.

The news has not yet been formalized. But several sources joined in Ouagadougou and Paris confirm that Monsanto would have decided to leave this country, in which he had however placed all his hopes to “sell” his GMOs to Africans, and who was for a long time his only customer in West Africa .

Two reasons are put forward: the acquisition of Monsanto by the German group Bayer, announced mid-September; and the decision of Burkina Faso’s cotton sector, made last May, not to cultivate the Bt cotton supplied by Monsanto, which was considered disappointing both in terms of yield and quality of the fiber. The next harvest, that the sector announces very good – the figure of 700 000 tonnes is advanced – will be stamped “GMO-free”.

Doulaye Traoré: Monsanto packs up and goes out the door

GMO cotton: Burkina Faso seeks compensation from Monsanto

The country feels aggrieved by the lower quality of its cotton since adopting Monsanto’s GMO seeds. The Burkinabè cotton trade union is demanding that the US seed grow close to 50 billion CFA francs, the equivalent of 74 million euros.

Burkina Faso seeks redress from Monsanto. Since the cotton companies adopted Bollgard II, a genetically modified variety to fight the cotton worm, Burkinabè cotton has lost one of its main assets: the length of its fiber, the first quality criterion of cotton, because that a long silk facilitates the manufacture of the thread.

In 2012, the decline in the quality of transgenic cotton from Burkina Faso was felt … in the income received by the cotton companies. Burkinabe cotton was discounted relative to other West African cottons on the world market. But it is difficult for the Burkinabè cotton companies to give up cotton seeds BT overnight. They were very popular with farmers because they required fewer pesticide passes and significantly improved yields for the less well trained farmers.

Consequential financial loss

Monsanto had also committed to rework its seeds, but apparently unsuccessfully so far. Year after year, the cotton companies have therefore reduced GMO cotton, which had reached up to 80% of surfaces. This year, farmers are being asked to completely renounce transgenic cotton and plant only conventional cotton.

The new managing director of Sofitex, one of the main cotton companies, has taken the measure of the damage: 20 to 30 CFA francs less per pound of cotton now. Financial damage even heavier in this period of depressed prices, but also moral damage, the Burkinabe cotton has lost its reputation, it is the white gold of the country, second resource after gold metal.

Unable to succeed in its discreet negotiations with Monsanto, the Burkinabè cotton trade union (AICB) is now asking the US seed giant 48.3 billion CFA francs, about 74 million euros. A reasonable demand in the eyes of professionals in the sector.

Sources Monsanto packs up and goes out the door: /

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