Relever les défis environnementaux pour les filières cotonnières d'Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre

A. Abou Abba, J.L. Hofs, G. Mergeai


Taking up the environmental challenges of the cotton production and marketing chains in Western and Central Africa.The extension of cotton cultivation in Western and Central Africa involves negative consequences for the environment on thelevel of the climatic changes, the reduction of biological diversity and the acceleration of desertifi cation. In addition to the fallof wooded areas and the death of various animals related to the use of pesticides, it appears that the current production practicesare at the origin of the degradation of the soil fertility through erosion and accelerated mineralization of the organic matter.Being given the major socio-economic importance of the cotton crop in the farming systems of these areas, it is essential toevolve to systems that are at the same time more sustainable and more productive. The achievement of this objective impliesdrastic changes on several levels in the operation of the cotton agrarian systems. These changes concern mainly the applicationof anti-erosive techniques and the restoration/improvement of the soil organic content. With this intention, the introductionof the tree into the agrarian systems and a true integration of agriculture and animal breeding in order to produce and usemore organic manure appear impossible to circumvent. In the long term, the development cropping system under permanentvegetable cover seems to be the technical solution best adapted to the problems of erosion and fall of the soil organic mattercontent; these systems allow indeed a stabilization and a durable improvement of the yields and should favour the applicationof intensifi ed practices regarding the integration of agriculture and animal breeding. The application of these new techniquesimplies important changes on the level of the natural resources management in order to guarantee a right remuneration of the investments made by the producers in terms of land improvements (installation of hedges, windshield, permanent vegetablecover, etc.) and to avoid the negative impact on the produced biomass of the animal divagation and bush fi res. This supposesactions on the level of the land security of the producers, management of the bush fi res and resolution of the potential confl ictsbetween farmers and transhumant stockbreeders. The profi tability of the cotton systems also depends on an effective controlat the best cost of the pests to face the development of resistances to pesticides (in particular to pyrethrinoids). The solution bythe genetically modifi ed plants is the subject of debates with different attitudes from a country to another. The possible answersto take up the environmental challenges to which the cotton production and marketing chains are confronted are discussed inthe present communication.


Western Africa; Central Africa; cotton farming system; sustainable management; natural resources

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