While output of other crops will be affected by dry spells that have hit some parts of the country, players in the cotton sector say there will be little or no impact at all on the crop.
For the past few weeks, the country has received little or no rain in some of the parts, a development expected to impact output of maize, tobacco and other crops.
But African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) chief executive officer Felix Lombe said on Tuesday that the likely damage to the cotton crop as per their assessment is not significant.
He, however, cautioned that should the dry spells persist, the crop will be affected because beyond some water requirements, the crop will be affected.
“Cotton has an advantage because it is resilient because water content is slightly different from other crops. We, however, want to see a reverse of the situation in the next two weeks but otherwise the damage is not worrisome,” said Lombe.
He said instead, this year, output it is projected to rebound from around 11 000 tonnes last year on account of the hybrid cotton seed most farmers planted.
“We are expecting an observable improvement of about 1 000 tonnes or there about in the cotton sector as the crop is behaving well though challenges faced by farmers in the sector still persist,” he said.
Cotton Council of Malawi executive director Crispin Luwanda said while other crops are affected to an extent of wilting, cotton is surviving these harsh weather conditions.
“We are still holding high prospects that we will this year have a good yield of cotton. Cotton in its nature is withstanding the dry spells and it is our hope that if rains resume if the next one week or two, cotton should be able to pick up.
“We are, therefore, hoping for a substantial yield this year considering that we have invested in seed supply to farmers and made arrangement for the distribution of pesticides in collaboration with ginners,” he said.
However, Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi (Cofam) president George Nnesa said though cotton crop is resistant to dry spells, they fear the situation may negatively affect production.
“Farmers have this year planted a lot of cotton and the privileged few had access to a better-yielding crop variety. Nonetheless, dry spells remain a major threat to us all,” he said.
Cotton, which is one of the country’s largest cash crops along with tobacco, sugar and tea, generates substantial revenue for the country and thousands of farmers benefit from the crop directly or indirectly.
Over the last seven years, cotton output has dropped by 90 percent from 100 000 tonnes in 2010 to around 11 000 tonnes last year.
This year, output is projected to jump to 13 000 tonnes, according to Aicc.
In terms of maize, the country’s staple grain, dry spells have affected 12 percent of 1.7 million hectares, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
The overall effect of dry spells on the agriculture sector could be disastrous as the sector accounts for about 30 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).