The Cotton Development Trust (CDT) has admitted that Malawi will produce less cotton this year and this will negatively affect on the morale of farmers.
CDT chairperson Patrick Khembo said in an interview in Salima that late availability of cotton seed, pesticides and the drought that hit some parts of the country are some of the reasons for the reduced production of cotton in the country.
“We were expected to produce more cotton this year but we will only produce between 150 000 to 200 000 tonnes and this will affect the morale of farmers. The farmers were ready to plant in good time but because the seed came late the farmers ended up planting other crops,” said Khembo.
Malawi for the past 10 years has been importing cotton seed from Zambia and Zimbabwe spending about K2 billion (about $5m) per growing season.
Khembo said the setting up of the cotton council will greatly help to improve the sector because it will be regulating all the activities happening in the cotton sctor.
“We are glad that the President Joyce Banda has assented to the Cotton bill and now we will set up a Cotton Council which will be working more or less like the Tobacco Control Commission. Cotton is acrop which can help the country bring in more forex if properly regulated,” said khembo.
Group Village head Mwanza said apart from cotton all the crops have not done well in the district and there is a posibility of hunger in the district.
“It is not only cotton which has not done well and our fear is that there will be hunger in the district. Those who planted maize did not access subsidized fertilizers on time and this has resulted in crops not producing to their expected maximum potential,” said Mwanza.
Salima District Commissioner Charles Kalemba also conceded that the cotton crop in the field was not impressive and there was need for solutions to be found to make sure that farmers get better yields.
“The way I have seen the crop in field it is not impressive. It is not even worthy writing that we have good cotton crop save for a few gardens and we need to find a lasting solution to this,” he said.
Kalemba urged the farmers to take farming a commercial activity and if one crop is not giving them the required results they should stop cultivating it.
“Time to grow crops which do not help us is over. If you want to move out of the poverty trap start taking farming as a business and never hesitate to stop growing crops which are not giving you the required results,” he said.