SOSUCO can trace its history back to the early years of independence, when Burkina Faso was still called Upper Volta. It was established in 1968 as a state-owned company at Banfora, in the southwest of the country, under the name Société de Sucre de la Haute-Volta. It was renamed Société Sucrière de la Comoé (SO SU CO) a few years later. After 30 years, the company was privatised. IPS(WA) took control in 1998, working alongside the national government and local private investors.
Based in a sugar-growing area of around 10,000 hectares, the sugar cane fields of SOSUCO cover nearly 4,000 hectares in the southwest of the country. The company operates the country's only sugar refinery. Between November and April, more than 3,000 people cut and transport the sugar canes to the factory, which runs 24 hours a day throughout the harvest season. The Banfora area near the company is home to 70,000 people. Social services to farmers include basic education, microfinance, health care and programmes for clean drinking water. Today, SOSUCO is the largest private employer in Burkina Faso.
Taking advantage of the privatisation of Burkina Faso’s cotton sector, IPS(WA) acquired the ginning factory and associated agricultural assets in the central region of the country and established Faso Coton in 2004. The company works with around 30,000 producers.
Faso Coton very quickly followed the development model of Ivoire Coton, which was established by IPS in 1998. However, the big concern of cotton growers in Burkina Faso is the low yield per hectare, because of poor soil fertility levels. Faced with poor harvests in Burkina Faso, Faso Coton is training its producers in conservation agriculture techniques designed to improve soil fertility. Today, Faso Coton’s factory turns out an average of 350 bales each day. Most of them are bound for the port of Lomé, capital of Togo. As well as the cotton ginnery, the company supplies the local edible oil and animal feed producers with seeds, exports fibre and provides agricultural extension services to 30,000 local cotton farmers.