Socio-economic context and role of agriculture
Burkina Faso is a low-income, landlocked country in West Africa. During the past decade its economy has grown considerably, with an annual average growth rate of over 6 percent between 2000 and 2012.1 The economy depends heavily on agriculture, forestry and livestock farming, as well as the exploitation of mineral resources.
Agriculture contributed to about 30 percent of the GDP in 2012, employing over 90 percent of the workforce. The sector is dominated by small-scale farms of less than 5 hectares and its main products are sorghum, millet and maize (the most produced in terms of volume), and cotton (the most important in terms of value). Before the gold mining boom, cotton was the main commodity exported, accounting for about 60 percent of export revenues. In 2012 it represents less than 15 percent of export revenues. Nevertheless, Burkina Faso remains one of the leading cotton producer and exporter in Africa. Traditional cereals, such as sorghum and millet, dominate food consumption and expenditure of rural households, while urban households prefer rice and maize.
Despite a decade of sustained growth, poverty persists, particularly in rural areas. GDP per-capita remains one of the lowest in the world; according to the UNDP Human Development Index, and in 2012 the country ranked 183rd out of 186 countries. The economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks, both climatic and economic, including food and fuel price volatility and deteriorating terms of trade for cotton.
The country also suffers from the negative effects of a population growth rate averaging 3 percent, which is among the highest in the world. Food insecurity and malnutrition rates are chronically high. The number of people undernourished rose from 3.8 million in 2008-10 to 4.4 million in 2011-13, corresponding to nearly a quarter of the total population.