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Title:Hemmed in: The geography of organic fairtrade cotton in Burkina Faso
Author(s):Coulter, Kathryn M.
Advisor(s):Bassett, Thomas J.
Department / Program:Geography
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Organic cotton
Burkina Faso
Commodity chain governance
Political ecology
Abstract:Conventional cotton growing in Burkina Faso is unsustainable. It is characterized by low incomes for most smallholder growers, dependence on expensive agro-chemical inputs, and male bias across the sector. By contrast, the Helvetas organic cotton program in many cases improves rural livelihoods through higher incomes, provides more equal opportunity (especially for women), and follows sustainable farming practices. However, only a small number of farmers have been able to participate in the organic program and the total area and production of organic cotton is quite small. Based on primary and archival research conducted in Burkina Faso in July and August of 2010, this Master’s thesis investigates the factors constraining the organic cotton program's expansion in Burkina Faso. Its thesis is that the program's limitation stems from the geographic zoning and monopsonistic governance structure of the cotton sector, in which three companies control cotton production and marketing in their own zones. Consequently, the organic cotton program operates under the auspices of the cotton company that controls the particular zone, and it is dependent on the good will of each cotton company to allow this alternative development to occur within its zone. Since these companies' profits derive from conventional - and, recently, genetically modified – cotton, their support for lower-yielding organic cotton is limited. In addition, the recent introduction of genetically modified cotton further jeopardizes the viability of the organic option, as concerns over contamination of organic cotton by genetically modified varieties limit the organic fields to islands of organic production beyond the reach of many willing producers. The organic option is, in essence, hemmed in by the jurisdictional control of cotton companies and the agroecological threat of genetically modified and conventional cotton contamination.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Kathryn M. Coulter
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05

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