Stakeholder perceptions of the outcomes of reforms on the performance and sustainability of the cotton sector in Ghana and Burkina Faso: A tale of two countries

This study investigates the outcomes of reforms on the performance of the cotton sector in Ghana and Burkina Faso. These structural and policy reforms have been aimed at promoting competition and enhancing productivity, largely under the pressure of external donor agencies. The study draws on in-depth semi-structured interviews with stakeholders involved in different aspects of cotton value chains in the two countries. In particular, it elicits their perception of how reforms affected six domains (input credit systems, price determination and profit distribution, extension services, research and development, institutional and regulatory systems, and food security) related to the performance of the sector. This is complemented with the analysis of policy documents and annual cotton production statistics pre- and post-reform. Results indicate that reforms in Ghana and Burkina Faso took different directions, and subsequently, generated different outcomes to the six performance domains. Stakeholders in Ghana perceived predominantly negative outcomes, whereas Burkinabe stakeholders perceived both negative and positive outcomes. Regarding price determination for instance, Ghanaian respondents mentioned the lack of transparency in the seasonal price-setting system and the decline in government revenue and farmer profit as direct outcomes of reform actions. Burkinabe respondents cited the guaranteed minimum price, high profit-sharing among farmers, and the favorable price incentives as some positive outcomes of the reforms. The empirical information outlined in this study can be used to identify the positive and negative lessons learnt that can be relevant to stakeholders in the public and private sector, and efforts to help sustain the cotton sector in different parts of sub-Saharan Africa.