Cotton farmers in the country are anticipating better prices this year from the projected bumper cotton yield that has been facilitated by government support coupled with good weather conditions this growing season.
Government allocated K1 billion in the 2019/20 National Budget through the Cotton Council of Malawi to enhance cotton production.
Through the financial support, the council provided improved hybrid seeds and recommended pesticides for farmers across the country on loan that growers will have to repay at the end of the growing season.
Cotton Farmers Association (Cofa) president Dickson Gundani, in an interview on Wednesday said that they have already agreed with cotton ginners that they [the buyers] will offer K375 per kilogramme (kg) as minimum price, but anticipates the price to rise eventually.
He said farmers are confident of better prices as this season’s cotton is of high quality as the majority of farmers planted improved hybrid varieties of cotton provided by the Cotton Council of Malawi.
Said Gundani: “Farmers with the government’s guidance agreed that farmers should not produce without knowing the minimum prices. So it was settled that K375 will be the minimum but we anticipate the prices to go up eventually.
“We earlier communicated that we will produce about 50 000 metric tonnes but I can confidently inform you that we will surpass our earlier projection. This is because in our latest assessment, we are looking at 80 000 metric tonnes.”
However, the first round crop estimate released by the government shows that cotton production estimates stands at 52 000 metric tonnes.
Cotton Council of Malawi executive director Cosmas Luwanda said the allocation of K1 billion by government as support to cotton production will revamp cotton production.
“The support given will enable the establishment of a sustainable cotton inputs supply system through the Cotton Development Fund. Through the same support, cotton production is expected to increase thereby increasing activities in ginning, cotton seed crushing and textile manufacturing,” he said.
Luwanda expalained that the total effect is the increased creation of more employment opportunities for Malawians, increased foreign exchange earnings and greater import substitution.
“Cotton Council of Malawi is excited and thankful to government for scratching where it itched most,” he added.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development first round crop estimates indicate that cotton production has also increased by 106.8 percent this growing season.
According to the Ministry, the anticipated volumes tremendously increased from 25 331 metric tonnes in 2018/2019 to 52,389 metric tonnes in 2019/20 growing season.