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Organic cotton [Burkina Faso]

technologies_957 - Burkina Faso

Completeness: 59%

1. General information

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

In the Loba province of Burkina Faso, the production, storage, processing and marketing of organic cotton has been promoted since 2004 by Helvetas.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Organic cotton production adheres to the principles and standards of organic farming. Any application of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and the use of genetically modified varieties are forbidden. Organic cotton relies on a combination of different measures: (1) the use of organic fertilizers (manure or compost) and recycling of organic matter; (2) Crop rotation and/or intercropping; (3) Careful selection of varieties adapted to local conditions (climate, soil, pests and diseases); (4) Biological pest management (in combination with careful monitoring of crops); (5) Clear separation of organic and conventional cropland, e.g. by growing border crops (to avoid contact with chemical substances through spray drift or surface runoff); and (6) Soil and water conservation measures. Timely crop management (e.g. weeding) is very important. In Loba rotations crops include sesame (a cash crop), cereals and legumes (food crops), while intercrops include leguminous green manure and trap plants. The best adapted cotton variety is FK-37. Bio-pesticides are produced based on neem seeds (Azadirachta indica). The measures listed above help to improve soil fertility, reduce production costs (and thus financial risk) and avoid the negative effects of conventional farming: declining yields, resistance to pests and diseases, health hazards and environmental problems caused through the use of chemicals. By relying on inputs available/produced on the farm and by getting a better price for certified organic products, profitability of the farm is improved in the long run despite of lower productivity compared to conventional or genetically modified (GM) cotton. Farms need to complete a 3-year conversion period to change their production system from conventional to organic. Farmers have to maintain records and documents for periodic inspection and certification (Internal control system).

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment


Burkina Faso

Region/ State/ Province:

Ioba province

Further specification of location:


2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Fertility decline and reduced OM content; Biodiversity decline

3.3 Further information about land use

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 Spread of the Technology


around 7'000 farmers

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility

Main measures: agronomic measures

Type of agronomic measures: mixed cropping / intercropping, legume inter-planting, manure / compost / residues

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bs: quality and species composition/ diversity decline

Main type of degradation addressed: Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content, Bs: quality and species composition /diversity decline

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • prevent land degradation

Main goals: prevention of land degradation, mitigation / reduction of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high

Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate

Main technical functions: improvement of ground cover, increase in organic matter, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…), promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder)

Secondary technical functions: improvement of water quality, buffering / filtering water

Mixed cropping / intercropping
Material/ species: intercrops include leguminous green manure and trap plants

Manure / compost / residues
Material/ species: manure or compost

Agronomic measure: bio-pesticides
Material/ species: from Neem seeds (Azadirachta indica)

4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Type of measure Timing/ frequency
1. Compost production / Clear crop residues on fields where cotton will be planted, use for mulch or compost production (no burning) Agronomic
2. Apply organic manure: 7.5 t/ha / Ploughing (for incorporation of manure, pest and weed control) Agronomic
3. Sow cotton and intercrops (such as Hibiscus esculentus – a trap plant for pests; or Mucuna – a green manure plant); Thin out cotton after 10-20 days (1-2 plants per pocket) Agronomic
4. Weeding (3 to 4 times: 20/40/70/100days after sowing) / Pest control (manual collection); Spraying of bio-pesticide (64 liters / ha, based on neem seeds): according to infestation: up to 3 times Agronomic
5. Ridging (form furrows and ridges using plough or manually) / Pre-harvest weeding / Harvesting / Cut cotton stems / residues and incorporate into the soil Agronomic

4.7 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


Machinery/ tools: hoe, plough, wheel-barrow, knapsack

4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Standard equipment (hoe, plough, wheel-barrow) is not included in costs, knapsack is provided by producer’s association (UNPCB) on credit; transport bags are donated. Labour and other inputs for erosion control measures (e.g. stone bunds) are not included in costs. Neem biocide costs US$ 0.7 per liter; organic cotton seeds cost US$ 1.7 per 50 kg.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Agro-climatic zone
  • semi-arid

Thermal climate class: tropics. tropical, with high rainfall variability

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • animal traction
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Difference in the involvement of women and men: certain activities carried out in mutual help groups

Population density: 50-100 persons/km2

5.7 Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • state
Land use rights:
  • individual

group (family clans) / state

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts

Income and costs

farm income


Socio-cultural impacts

health situation


Ecological impacts


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

beneficial species


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)


Tolerant to climatic extremes due to higher water retention capacity of soils, reduced erosion and crop diversification (reduced risk of total crop failure)

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

slightly positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive


Establishment costs are higher than revenues due to investments & initial decrease in yield (conversion period). On the long term, advanced farmers can achieve same or even higher yields than conventional cotton systems

6.5 Adoption of the Technology


100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

Comments on adoption trend: The proportion of organic cotton is growing

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
This technology helps to improve soil fertility, reduce production costs (and thus financial risk) and avoid the negative effects of conventional farming: declining yields, resistance to pests and diseases, health hazards and environmental problems caused through the use of chemicals

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Lack of water establish water retention structures
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Coexistence of organic and GMO cotton resulting in high risk of contamination intensify training of farmers; set up a coordination platform between organic and GMO farms; GMO communication plan; establish a sampling & testing system
Insufficient application of manure / compost training on compost production; promote supply of organic manure (e.g. through SMEs specialized in compost production).
Large distance to cotton fields (resulting in high transportation costs) due to interfering of browsing livestock close to village hay-making and corralling of livestock.
Lack of land, land ownership and land security promote land leasing; resolve tenure problem on political level.
Lack of equipment (e.g. plough) Develop and maintain access to credits for small-scale farmers.

7. References and links

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Helvetas. 2008. Guide de production - Un manuel de reference (Authors: Ouedraogo A, Yombi L, Doumbia S, Eyhorn F, Dischl R)

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Eyhorn F., S.G. Ratter, M. Ramakrishnan. 2005. Organic Cotton Crop Guide – A Manual for Practitioners in the Tropics; Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, Switzerland

Links and modules

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