Chikwawa, Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) has said the Cotton sector has the potential of creating 40,000 employment opportunities in the country.
CCM Executive Director, Cosmas Luwanda disclosed this Saturday during a follow-up visit to Cottonfields by Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation in Ngabu, Chikwawa
He said the employment opportunities could be achieved if the farmers could increase Cotton production up to 100,000 metric tonnes per year.
“We have failed to attain this level of in the past few years just because the Cotton sector lacked financial support to sustain its programmes. As a Council with support from the government, the sector stands to improve for the better and contribute effectively to the country economy,” Luwanda explained.
He pointed out that once proper marketing and seed production systems are put in place the country could reach the expected levels of production to satisfy the local and international markets thereby reduce cases of unemployment among the youth.
The Executive Director said the Cotton sector needs to be given all the necessary support for it to develop and encourage more stallholder farmers to get engaged.
He said strides are being made in order to improve marketing of the crop, by finding ways and means to develop locally made cottonseed unlike what was happening now where smallholder Farmers are largely depending on imported seeds.
“We need to work on reviving dysfunctional Cotton markets so that Farmers should have better access to acquire inputs and provide a conducive marketing environment for their produce,” Luwanda noted.
He said the increase in cotton production would help reduce cases of importing branded t-shirts from China and accelerate import and export for the country.
A Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation, Benedicto Chambo, who is also an Agro-dealer in Mangochi said the government should consider supporting research services in order to develop locally made Cottonseed
He observed that Cotton was the only crop where Farmers are struggling to access seeds in time unlike other crops like cereals and legumes.
“If the emphasis was put on research in the development of Cotton hybrid seed in the country, this will eliminate the issues of shortage of seeds. The country stands to benefit from lost foreign currency which is used to purchase the inputs,” Chambo pointed out.
He said basic cottonseed could be developed and so many companies could multiply it and made it available in local markets throughout the country.
Chairperson of Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM), Martin Mpata said the country’s Ginners have the capacity of handling 250,000 metric tonnes of cotton per year.
He said some of the Ginners include Afrisian, Admarc, Malawi Cotton Company (MCC) and Agrivalve Chain Limited.
“There are good prospects in terms of Cotton production since smallholder farmers are using variety Mahyco Hybrid Cottonseed from Quton Malawi Limited, which produce 2,000 metric tonnes per hectare. We are discouraging farmers from using Chureza which has a low production rate of 600 kgs per hectare,” Mpata added
Chairperson said quality seed and pesticides need to be complementing each other and it should be accessible to farmers at the beginning of the growing season.
President of Cotton Farmers Association in Malawi, Dickson Gundani said in the past farmers were facing the challenge of accessing seed and pesticides which made many to abandon the sector.
He said with the new arrangement more farmers would be encouraged to revive their cotton-growing careers as it was in the past.
“We are appealing to the authority to make sure that farmers are supplied with seeds and pesticides in time. Once farmers have inputs in place at right time cotton production will increase for the better,” Gundani suggested.