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BAMAKO, March 25 (Reuters) – Mali’s cotton harvest in 2020 tumbled nearly 79% year-on-year to 147,200 tonnes partly because of a pandemic-induced price slump that forced farmers to plant less, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane said on Thursday, citing provisional estimates.
Mali, one of the four top cotton producers in sub-Saharan Africa, alongside Chad, Benin and Burkina Faso, had originally forecast output at 820,000 tonnes versus 700,000 tonnes last season.
But demand for cotton was upended last April when COVID-19 shuttered businesses. Prices at the time fell to their lowest since 2009.
Announcing the latest production estimate on state television, Ouane said, “The causes are, among others, the drop in the purchase price of seed cotton.”
He said output was also affected by the removal of some farm subsidies.
Although the government later reversed some of its decisions, including increasing farmgate prices, most farmers had already decided to ditch cotton and plant other crops such as maize, the cotton producers’ association said in October.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo Writing by Alessandra Prentice Editing by Karishma Singh)
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