The Malawi Cotton Development Trust (CDT) has said revamped cotton production in the country can be sustained if the Cotton Bill becomes a law.
Recent crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture has projected a 365 percent increase in cotton production in the 2011/2012 season.
This means cotton production will rise from 52 456 metric tonnes last season to 244 154 metric tonnes this season.
CDT chairperson Patrick Khembo said the increase in production can be sustained if the proposed Cotton Act can be passed and gazetted to guide cotton operations.
Khembo was speaking at a cotton stakeholders meeting in Lilongwe last week.
“We are pleased that cotton production is now picking up. The recent crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security show that we are moving in the right direction.
“But the increase we have registered can only be meaningful if we have guiding principles. The Cotton Bill which is at the Cabinet level, being scrutinised, needs to be passed into a law to sustain the increase,” he said.
He noted the cotton industry in the country is failing to meet its potential because of lack of legal instruments.
“The other reasons are mass importation of second-hand clothes and foreign textiles. This discourages investors in the textile industry.
“Lack of credit facilities from financial institutions is another reason. The cotton industry lost its borrowing capacity in 1992/1993 when we embraced multiparty system of government because most farmers did not repay their loans to the Malawi Rural Finance Company and it became paralysed,” said Khembo.
During the meeting, the African Institute for Cooperate Citizenship (AICC), a mother body of CDT, presented a five-year draft national cotton strategic plan.
The plan aims at solving challenges facing the cotton industry and boosting production and investment in the sector.
“We have included all areas where we were failing. There are issues of financing in the industry, research, capacity building, information dissemination, pricing mechanisms, marketing and technical aspects. All we want is to continue increasing production and woo more investors,” said Duncan Warren, who presented the AICC strategic plan.
He said currently, the country exports 95 percent of the cotton and only five percent is processed locally.