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Friday, 25 May 2018 09:15

New Cotton strategy to improve production

Written by  Tione Andsen
Cotton Expert Warren making a presentation during the meeting. -Pic by Tione Andsen Cotton Expert Warren making a presentation during the meeting. -Pic by Tione Andsen

Lilongwe, May 25: Ministry of Agricultural Irrigation and Water Development believes that the development of the new Cotton strategy would help to improve the production of the crop in the country.

Director of Crop development in the Ministry of agricultural irrigation and water development, Dr Geoffrey Ching’oma said this Thursday when he opened a stakeholders meeting on 2018-2023 Cotton strategy at Golden Peacock hotel in Lilongwe.

He said the country had a cotton strategic plan which expired in 2016 and stakeholders are geared to come up with new strategy to develop the cotton sector.

Ching’oma said once the new cotton strategy is development it would help to address some of the challenges the sector was facing in the country.

“Some of the gaps in the old strategy include implementation. Implementation requires resources. For instance, agenda for research was not adequately funded and we need to come up with good variety of cotton. Resources were one of the problems although governance structures were there but still there was weak implementation and coordination. We need to work on that in order improve the sector,” the Director observed.

He said every strategy requires drivers for it to produce results and would be working to achieve that in most thematic areas that we would be looking at in the new strategy.

Ching’oma said government would like to promote contract farming so that famers and buyers should agree on prices before hand.

He said government is reviewing some regulation to ensure that the issue of contracting farming in cotton sector is adequately addressed.

A Cotton expert, Duncan Warren admitted that the cotton industry is having a number of challenges but opportunities are there but not capitalize them

“We still have weak farmer organization, cotton is still yet fully operational and should make made operation so be adequately resourced and we can move forward and improve the sector,” he noted

Warren said the cotton sector has faced the challenges such as the provision of input to farmers and credible markets to sale their produce.

He said the good news that the country is striving to provide high yielding cotton varieties so that cotton farmers are able to increase their production.

“Research is vital for any sector to give you the push from down so that you can more a head.  However, the investment I was talking about goes beyond research it’s about value addition. We add value to the cotton lint instead of exporting it all by weaving, spinning and garment manufacturing,” Warren pointed out.

Executive Director of Cotton Council of Malawi, Cosmas Luwanda said the council is making progress in the cotton industry since it was set up and as a result it has promoted relegations to enforce the cotton act.

He said this year the council had structured marketing centres that are designed for buying and selling seed cotton

“This would help to regulate the cotton sector to ensure that side buying and selling is curtailed and enables the farmers who get loans from investors are able to repay their loans,” Luwanda pointed out.

The meeting had stakeholders like famers, ginners, chemical companies, seed crashers and all value chain.

Malawi last produced over 100,000 metric tonnes of cotton was in 2012 since then it has failed to reach the same target despite a number of initiatives but the new Cotton Strategy to be development provides window of hope to surpass the target within the implementation period.

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