Cotton farmers under Lupembe Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Karonga District have complained about low prices the crop is fetching on the market.
Speaking in an interview, Lupembe EPA member Nelson Kandono said farmers will never enjoy the fruits of their sweat unless the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development sets a minimum price.
“We have been selling cotton at K290 per kilogramme [kg]. However, after negotiations, the price has been raised to K375 per kg,” he said.
Kandono noted that for the past two years the crop failed to fetch better prices because the district had one ginnery buying the crop.
“So, the lack of markets caused prices to fall, a development that hurt farmers,” he said.
A farmer from Mlare, Phineas Mwafulirwa, claimed cotton farming is declining in the district because of low prices. He, therefore, asked government to intervene by providing seeds, chemicals and setting a minimum price for the crop.
Ngara Cotton Ginnery manager Panganani Chilonda, whose institution is one of the cotton buyers in the district, said they did not buy cotton last year.
“However, we have already started conducting meetings with farmers from all EPAs as we are prepared to buy cotton this year,” he said. Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development public relations officer Priscilla Mateyu was yet to respond to our questionnaire as we went to press.