The Cotton Ginners Association of Malawi (CGAM) has applauded government for its plans to open a clothing and textile incubator (CTI) for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre.
In an e-mailed response on Tuesday, chairperson for CGAM ,Amos Chipungu, said the development would help to create value addition for cotton, which is one of the country’s strategic crops.
“This is a welcome development as most of the lint has been exported as raw lint without value addition. The value addition would create more jobs locally as well as improve prices offered to local farmers” he said.
Chipungu said out of the national production of 49 000 metric tonnes (MT) seed cotton, 19 110 MT was lint (the exportable fibre) and 27 440 MT cotton seed which has been sold locally to oil producers to produce cooking and cotton seed cake for animal feed.
“The challenge is with the lint which we rely on for the export market. The local spinner [Mapeto] takes about two percent of the lint produced locally and the rest is exported,” he said.
Cotton, mainly grown by smallholder farmers, is the main cash crop for about 300 000 farming families.
The crop is mainly grown in the Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje and along the lakeshore.
In the 2011/12 season, the country produced a record 100 000 MT of cotton before output fell by half to 45 000 MTthe following year.
Last year, the output was at 45 000 tonnes and this year, experts say the output is likely to fall to between 30 000 and 40 000 MT.