The West African country of Mali is likely to produce almost 20 percent less cotton than it had previously expected after poor rains disrupted the sowing season. This year's crop is forecast to be less than 500,000 tonnes, down from state cotton company CMDT's previous prediction of 604,500 tonnes.
Achieving the target would have been a sizable achievement, given that last year's 571,000 tonne harvest set a new record.
Now, though, the weather is likely to get in the way.
"Taking into account the rainfall problems experienced in the early part of the season," a CMDT official said, "500,000 tonnes would be a good harvest. "That's still possible - if the rainfall keeps up."
Together with a number of neighbouring West African countries, Mali relies on cotton to make up a critical part of its export earnings. The others normally cut the crop some time after Mali, and may reduce their own forecasts as a result.
Taken together, the four biggest producers - Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and the Ivory Coast - produced a bumper 1.7 million tonnes in 2001-2, a figure that is unlikely to be matched this season.
The Ivory Coast has been well rained upon this season, but elsewhere problems have emerged. In Cameroon, for example, state cotton firm Sodecoton said that there had been only three rains in the past two months, rather than the usual eight.
July 31, 2002
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