Land use in cotton farming.


Cotton is grown in more than 80 countries, but it only uses 0.6% of the world’s agricultural lands. These lands include meadows, pastures used for livestock grazing, and cropland. Not only does cotton use less land than many crops, it is also very valuable. In 2016, cotton fiber and cottonseed represented 1.9% of global cropland. The crop provides good economic return for growers, producing 2.3% of the global farm-gate value for crops.

Cotton farming has become a significant part of some economies, and it becomes critical in countries with rich ecosystems and complex food chains. The expansion of cotton farming, due to economic reasons, has led to biodiversity loss in some areas.

For example, in the Mid Zambezi area, which is home to over 1500 species of plants and diverse habitats for animals, the cotton industry started taking over the lands at a fast speed after Zimbabwe became independent in the 1980s. Another example is the ‘W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP)’ complex, a transfrontier park in Africa. The biodiversity includes 670 plant species and a large number of animals. However, cotton production started increasing in certain areas of the WAP complex. For instance, in Tansarga, a town in Burkina Faso, the land used for cotton farming increased by 70% between 2001 and 2005.