According to countryaah, an unfavorable climate for agriculture, lean soils and an undeveloped infrastructure constitute major obstacles to the development of business in Burkina Faso. The main focus of the country’s economy is agriculture at self-sustaining level. In 1991, in cooperation with the World Bank, the country implemented a structural adjustment program to increase agricultural production, increase privatization and facilitate investors. In the mid-1990s, efforts began to produce results, but the civil war in Ivory Coast in 2002–03 hit the country’s foreign trade hard. As the country is very dependent on agriculture, it is severely affected by natural disasters such as droughts, floods and insect invasions. In 2007, the country was hit by floods and almost 100,000 became homeless.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
Although Burkina Faso is a prominent agricultural country, production does not meet the country’s food needs. The problems for the agricultural sector are serious: meager soils, large erosion damage, recurring dry periods and even between general water shortages. As early as 1980, the population in the drier zones of the country had exceeded the ecological sustainability. In addition, the availability of firewood is a limiting factor. Overpopulation in this sense easily results in desertification. Dominant food crops are millet and corn. The dominant sales crop is cotton, which accounts for half of the country’s export earnings. In 2007, the country had a record crop of cotton, making Burkina Faso the country in sub-Saharan Africa that exported the most cotton.
About 25 percent of the area is wooded, but despite this, the setback is only 9.5 million m 3 per year, of which 95 percent is used for firewood. The fishing industry is poorly developed and catches are consumed locally.
Minerals and industry
There are good mineral resources in Burkina Faso, but only a small part of these are utilized. The most important economic deposits are gold, which is the country’s second most important export commodity. During the 00s, gold production has risen sharply and in recent times several foreign companies have invested in the sector. In addition to gold, zinc is the only mineral that is mined on any major scale, but the country also has deposits of silver, manganese, vanadium and phosphates. The country’s energy supply is covered by 90 percent of firewood. Electricity production takes place mainly in the country’s oil-powered power plant.
The industrial sector alongside the mining industry is relatively small, but the share of GDP has increased. The problems for this industry are mainly a small local market and low investment. The sector is characterized by processing of agricultural products and import substitution (manufacture of goods to reduce imports of these goods).
Burkina Faso’s foreign trade is characterized by a long-term and large deficit. The dominant export goods are cotton and gold. Imports are dominated by capital goods and food. The main trading partner for imports is China, Ivory Coast and the United States and for exports Switzerland, India and South Africa. Many men work abroad and send home money to their families.