The first batch of irrigated cotton harvest in the country is projected to hit 800 metric tonnes which could earn the farmers about K250 million, agriculture authorities have said.
The cotton irrigation project, under the Green Belt Authority (GBA), is being undertaken on a 300-hectare land in Chikwawa District. Currently, the harvest for the crop planted in July this year is in progress. Over 124 farmers work under the project.
Speaking during a media tour yesterday, Nchalo director Innocent Saliva said the high projected harvest signifies unprecedented progress in irrigation farming.
“This is the first time irrigated cotton is being harvested in the country. It means there’s great potential we can increase farming productivity through irrigation,” he said.
Saliva, State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) will buy the produce at K300 per kilogramme.
One of the farmers, Alick Shumba, hailed the project saying they are able to grow the crop twice a year.
According to the Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM), at least 60 000 farmers have grown cotton this year, an increase from 30 000 the previous year but production is expected to be lower than expected due to pests which attacked cotton is some districts as a result of the dry spell.
Cotton, mainly grown by smallholder farmers, is the main cash crop for about 300 00 farm families. Cotton is one of the country’s high-value crops that have a number of benefits along their value chains.
Experts in the sector have argued that the crop has huge economic potential and could rake in substantial amount of foreign exchange, in excess of $500 million (K306 billion) per annum. This is more than what the country gets from the main export crop tobacco.