West Africa

Boron: Key to good soil health

Much of West Africa lies in a climatic zone between the African savannah grasslands to the south and the Sahara Desert to the north. Severe, long-term droughts have had a major impact on the area over the last several decades, though more frequent rainfall in recent years is contributing to the growth of an expanding green zone.

Predominant crops in the drought zone include millet and sorghum. Farther to the south, cropping switches to maize, groundnuts, and cowpeas, which are some of the most frequently harvested crops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.

Cotton provides much-needed revenue to West African smallholder farmers, primarily in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Root crops such as cassava and yams are found mostly in Ghana, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast, along with cacao, which grows in wetter areas where soil is more fertile. Palm and cashew trees are also important to the local economy, along with rice, which constitutes much of the population’s diet.

Despite abundant natural resources, agricultural productivity in West Africa is limited by lack of access to affordable and reliable high-quality seeds, fertilizers and information on current agricultural practices. Production in the region is also hindered by poor soil quality, resulting in some of the lowest crop yields in the world.

Featured Crops

Boron has been universally recognized as the most important micronutrient for cotton production. It is essential at all stages of plant growth, and critically so during fruit development.
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One of the first signs of boron deficiency in cocoa is profuse chupon formation and the appearance of a few curled leaves which are almost normal green in color. 
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In rice plants, boron does not move throughout the plant. Because it doesn't move to new growth, boron deficiency symptoms usually appear first on young leaves.
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Improve Soil Conditions with Boron Supplementation

Growers in West Africa have many opportunities to improve crop health and yields. Much of the soil throughout the region contains low amounts of organic matter, which can lead to boron deficiency and smaller yields. Under these conditions, cotton, oil palm, cocoa, rice and a variety of fruits and vegetables can benefit from the application of refined, water-soluble boron for better results throughout the growth lifecycle.

Boron can also improve drought tolerance in plants, enabling farmers to continue to produce even when rainfall is scarce.

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U.S. Borax has been the principal supplier of boron to the West Africa cotton blending market (total annual consumption of 5,000 to 10,000 tons—4535.92 to 9071.85 metric tonnes—of pentahydrate borax per year) for many years.

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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