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Sanctions put squeeze on Mali's lucrative cotton sector

Mahamadou Konaté, owner and cotton-grower, sorting on one of his cotton depots, not far from Kita, on January 17, 2022.   -  
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Mali is Africa's leading cotton producer. Cotton is one of Mali's main sources of export revenue, after gold. But thousands of Malian cotton growers face sanctions imposed by ECOWAS in January, demanding Mamdou Konate, cotton farmer.

"Sanctions cause us a lot of difficulties, because only 2% of the cotton is processed in Mali, the rest is exported abroad. If they sanction us, how will we sell our cotton?"

So far, because of the sanctions, only about a third of what has been produced since the season began has been exported.

As Mali's second most important export after gold, cotton is a key source of foreign exchange.

Every Malian worker is potentially affected by the sanctions, but cotton growers fear the measures will provoke spiralling problems in the industry.

"There are four million people currently working in the cotton sector. And cotton represents 15% of the national GDP, so that gives a figure bordering on many billions. So on the economic level, cotton as a whole even in question, there are more than four hundred billion francs that generally turn in the cotton sector if there was a very good campaign " said Abdel Rahmane Sy, consultant and expert in the cotton sector.

As a result, poor sales this year because of sanctions may send prices plummeting in 2023, which would in turn push farmers to plant other crops -- as they did last year

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