Weaving cotton-led development? Liberalization, cotton producer organizations, and uneven development in Burkina Faso

Document Type


Publication Date



John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


This article argues that the politics of scale in a nested hierarchy of cotton governance institutions in Burkina Faso are weighted against smaller producers, with what looks like success from a broader scale producing uneven development at the local scale. We show that at the national level, Burkina Faso has succeeded in increasing its output of cotton lint. At the local level, we see a differentiated outcome where the liberalization-initiated system of shared liability has improved overall cotton cooperative management but this has come at a significant cost: the exit of poorer farmers from the cotton sector and an increasing debt burden on those individual farmers who remain. The novelty of this article is that it considers producers' institutions as a key level of analysis linking macro-scale policy decisions to micro-scale village and farm outcomes. The resulting analysis allows us to focus on the politics of scale, particularly the power relations of different actors and the ability to capture resources at different levels, as well as the role of multilevel institutions in producing differentiated outcomes.