Ivory Coast is aiming to boost its seed cotton output to 600,000 tonnes in the next two years, the head of the country's industry regulator said on Thursday, marking the latest advance for a sector recovering from a decade of war and political crisis.
The country - the world biggest cocoa producer - was also one of West Africa's major cotton exporters, with an annual output of about 400,000 tonnes, before a 2002-2003 civil war split the country in two and halved production.
Output has been growing over the past five years thanks to government and donor efforts.
"We were able to reach 400,000 tonnes during the season that just finished," Malamine Sanogo, the managing director of the Cotton and Cashew Council, told Reuters. "That's the highest output since the beginning of the crisis and shows that the sector is rebounding."
Cotton planting in Ivory Coast generally starts in the second half of May with the first rains, and harvesting begins slowly in late October before picking up sharply in December.
Sanogo said the Council was forecasting production of 420,000 tonnes for the coming season.
"The interest in cotton from the farmers can bring us to achieve the government's wish, which is to produce 600,000 tonnes two years from now," he said.
The government has earmarked 7 billion CFA francs ($14.50 million) to subsidise inputs for farmers, Sanogo said, adding that he expected the government guaranteed farmer price to match if not exceed last year's level of 250 CFA francs per kg.
($1 = 482.6940 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Joe Bavier and David Evans)