Cotton is native to India, Africa and the Americas. It grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions, needs plenty of sunshine, moderate water and not necessarily excellent soils. The oldest cotton remains date to around 5500 BC. Cotton is a “political” crop, having had big influence in the history of India, the British Empire and the USA. Worldwide the largest cotton growers in terms of acreage are India, followed by China, USA, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Brazil. The same countries also produce the most, but India and China switch places – yields in China are more than 3-fold the yields of India. In a regional context, Africa is ranked 3rd after Asia and the Americas. In Africa yields are low compared to other regions. Burkina Faso is the largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa, with 17% of the area and 13% of the production. Cotton is the largest export product for Burkina Faso, accounting for nearly 40% of its total agricultural export value. Other large producers in sub-Saharan Africa include Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Benin. Cotton is also an important export product in Mali, accounting for 30% of its total agricultural export value.

Reference to numbers/statistics are from FAOSTAT 2010 for the year 2008

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