Burkina Faso is Africa’s largest producer of cotton, and believe it or not local farmers call it their ‘white gold’.
Cotton is what drives the economy of Burkina Faso, earning over 200 million dollars in revenue each year. Since cotton accounts for a third of the country’s gross domestic product, Burkina’s economy suffers when world prices dip. Burkina’s small producers also get paid a fraction of the final market price – sometimes receiving just 8%. And growers have to compete with western farmers who receive generous subsidies.
Burkina Faso is geologically rich. There has been substantial interest in mining, particularly gold mining, in Burkina Faso over the last 40 years, with the Poura region producing over 25t of gold. The government of Burkina Faso brought a new Mining Act into being in 2003, following which more than 30 companies have undertaken exploration in the country. There are 5 new mines, all on the point of full production.
‘Real’ gold is another vital source of revenue for Burkina Faso with the popular mining locations being around Yako and Dora in the north and Banfora in the south. Deposits of other minerals, mainly manganese, bauxite, lead, phosphates, zinc and nickel have also been found. But exploitation of these natural resources has so far been limited by the country’s poor infrastructure and the difficulty of reaching isolated areas.