Director of programmes at the African Institution of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) Noel Sangole says the introduction of biometric registration in the cotton industry will bring sanity in this sector because it will reduce incidences of misrepresentation of information by farmers.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the Malawi Oilseeds Sector Transformation meeting in Lilongwe on Wednesday Sangole said it is high time biometric registration was used in the cotton sector because it will bring sanity.
Sangole who is a rural development specialist with over 10 years experience and key competencies in rural livelihood analysis, food security and gender analysis is a cotton expert with experience spanning over six years.
Said Sangole: “Biometric Registration system should be used in registering cotton farmers because there have been incidences that farmers have exaggerated about the number of hectares they have cultivated the cotton crop. For example last year farmers demanded that chemicals enough to treat 150 000 hectares should be released and yet only 80 000 hectares were cultivated.”
He said because of this some chemicals found their way in shops because some farmers were oversupplied and ended up selling the products while others were undersupplied.
“If farmers continue giving conflicting information, then the industry will keep on losing money and that need to be stopped now. The cotton sector has got potential to help the country generate enough revenue but we need to sort out all the problems that are rocking this area,” he said.
Apart from farmers giving out conflicting information Sangole said selling of ungraded cotton also puts farmers at a huge disadvantage because they sell the cotton crop at lower prices.
“There are eleven ginners in the country fighting for less cotton and in the end they buy ungraded cotton. Imagine last year prices of cotton in other countries around the world was at 88 cents per pound and yet Malawi cotton was being bought at 80 cents per pound,” said Sangole.
He said ginners need to buy cotton according to grades because as it has been stipulated in the recently formulated cotton act if farmers are to reap rich rewards out of their sweat.
“In Tanzania there are over 21 ginners but still cotton farmers sell their cotton according to grades. This should also happen here and with the cotton act in place we hope this will change,” he added.
On availability of pesticides Sangole said since cotton require a lot of pesticides there is need to make pesticides available to farmers in good time.
Malawi Oil Seeds Transformation Sector team leader Cuan Opperman concurred with Sangole that usage of biometrics will flush out unscrupulous farmers and bring honesty in the cotton industry.
“If a farmer has misbehaved or has issues with ginners it will be easy to trace them using the biometric system. Working closely with AICC we are sure that a solution has been found to end cheating,” said Opperman.