Malawi Government has tightened its grip on intermediaries and unlicensed traders in this yearâ€™s seed cotton marketing season advising the 10 licensed ginners not to use the unscrupulous buyers.
In some parts of Balaka and the Shire Valley districts of Chikhwawa and Nsanje, according to the growersâ€™ associations, sales have already started on a low note, but are expected to pick up next week.
Buoyed by good prices last year that peaked at as high as K200 (about $1.19) per kilogramme, more than 200 000 cotton farmers have grown the crop largely propelled by a K1.6 billion ($10m) fund set up by government in the 2011/12 season to generate about $300 million (K50 billion) foreign exchange.
According to the first round crop estimates contained in the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) economic review for January 2012, cotton output has gone up by 9.3 percent to 581 331 tonnes this year.
In a statement, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development said: ” Only licensed ginners shall be allowed to buy seed cotton from the farmers. Ginners shall not be allowed to appoint agents or middlemen to buy seed cotton.”
The ministry has since advised all players in the cotton industry to report to the police, Extension Planning Area (EPA) and Agriculture Development Division (ADD) officials, any intermediaries or unlicensed trader buying seed cotton or any ginner who engages other traders or agents.
This yearâ€™s minimum prices have been pegged at K78 (about $0.47) per kilogramme for grade A, K3 ($0.018) up from last yearâ€™s K75 ($0.44) per kg. Grade B is now put at K63 per kilogramme, K7 down from last yearâ€™s K70 (about $0.41) per kilogramme.
Cotton experts have predicted pressure on cotton prices owing to a surge in the cropâ€™s output this year.
Over the years, Malawi has been producing less than 50 000 tones of the crop due to among others, poor crop husbandry and less hectarage on which the crop is grown.
The approved and registered ginners are; Great Lakes Cotton Company, Malawi Cotton Company, Toleza, Iponga, Woget, Nadhi Cotton Company, Afrisian Cotton Company, Cotton Ginners Africa Limited, Admarc and Mapeto (DWSM) Limited.