Chad Table of Contents
In 1988 the entirety of Chad's cotton was produced in the five soudanian prefectures of Mayo-Kebbi, Tandjilé, Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, and Moyen-Chari, plus the Bousso region of Chari-Baguirmi Prefecture, which juts down into the soudanian zone (see fig. 1). Few regions outside these prefectures offered sufficient water and population to sustain cotton production. Moreover, in this land of difficult transport, areas producing a cash crop also needed to be able to grow enough food for their people. Typically, the cultivation of cotton and food crops was carried on side by side. Efforts to extend the cultivation of cotton to the neighboring sahelian prefectures of Salamat and Guéra have had little success. In 1983 and 1984, with production at its highest in a decade, these two prefectures represented only .005 percent of total production. Suggestions also have been made from time to time to bring cotton production to the fertile borders of Lake Chad. Trials have shown the high yields possible there, estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 kilograms per hectare. As of 1987, however, farmers in the Lake Chad area had not taken voluntarily to cotton production. Traditionally, farmers have resisted government efforts to control local production of such crops as wheat, and the history of coercion and government intervention associated with cotton was no inducement.
The government has introduced methods to increase crop yield, which include the expanded use of fertilizers and insecticides. Even so, compared with crop yields of more than 1,000 kilograms per hectare for other francophone West African states (such as Cameroon, Mali, and Côte d'Ivoire), until 1982 Chad's crop yields did not significantly exceed 500 kilograms per hectare; from 1983 to 1987, yields averaged almost 750 kilograms per hectare.
Area under cotton cultivation reached a peak in 1963 of 338,900 hectares. From 1963 until the end of the 1970s, the area under cotton cultivation averaged 275,000 hectares. In the 1980s, however, the area has been consistently less than 200,000 hectares. By 1983 the area of land under cotton cultivation had dropped by 36 percent from the average during the 1960s and 1970s. Several sources estimated the area in southern Chad under cotton cultivation at 30 to 40 percent of all land in cultivation, and in some areas of Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture, it may have been higher (see table 3, Appendix A).
Cotton production has exhibited wide swings. Factors such as climatic conditions, production prices, and civil strife have influenced production. The first crop to exceed 100,000 tons came in 1963, but the 1970s were the best years for production, which from 1971 to 1978 remained well above 100,000 tons per year. Chad reached its all-time record production in 1975. Production suffered from 1979 to 1982 because of the Chadian Civil War and hit a twenty-year low in 1981. In 1983, with the return of some political stability and higher market prices, production improved but then fell from 1984 to 1987, a reflection of declining world cotton prices.
Once the crop is harvested, the producers must sort the cotton to separate lower quality yellow cotton from higher quality white cotton. Since the late 1970s, the proportion of white cotton generally has been 90 percent or more of total production. Going back to the 1960s, the quality of Chadian cotton had been consistently high, except for 1972 and 1973, when the proportion of yellow cotton rose to 18 percent. Since 1980 the quality has remained high at initial sorting, with white cotton representing more than 95 percent of the crop and accounting for 98 percent of production in 1984.
Data as of December 1988