The cotton industry has launched a biometric system of registering farmers to ensure that there is no duplication in accessing farm inputs.
The system, launched in Chikwawa last week, was initiated by Techno Brain, an information technology company.
Felix Lombe, chief executive officer of African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC), a company behind the launch, said the system will help to trace tricksters who were not cotton farmers as well as farmers who used to register with various cotton companies to access farm inputs.
He said the system will also help to enhance coordination among farmers, ginners and agriculture officials.
The system requires every cotton farmer to have his or her details recorded such as name, age, address, phone number, identification number as well as the name of the club the farmer belongs to. The farmers will also have their photographs taken and processed electronically.
Director of crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Godfrey Ching’oma said government relies on cotton to increase its returns, adding that there is need for cotton farmers to be considered at all costs, ranging from the timely supply of farm inputs, stable prices as well as giving out of premiums.
Chairperson of Cotton Ginners in Malawi Amos Chipungu said problems faced by cotton farmers in the country were being addressed as the system will enable cotton firms to know who to work with as cotton farmers.
“My request is that all farmers should ensure that they register with one company to access farm inputs in the next cotton farming season. We are ready to provide you with the required items in your work,” he assured.
Chipungu said the system rolled out in a number of districts to improve efficiency in the industry.
Chairperson of Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi (Cofam) George Nnesa said the system is expected to help cotton farmers to access what they deserve.
“There were other people who registered as farmers, but were not. They took advantage of the system and when they received farm inputs, they would end up selling them to other people leaving the real cotton farmers struggling,” he said.
Nnesa bemoaned lower cotton prices offered to the farmers, urging buyers not to take advantage of the poor farmers, but rather offer them prices that would in turn change their well-being.
Some of the cotton buying companies in Malawi include Great Lakes Cotton Company Limited, Malawi Cotton Company Limited, Cotton Ginners Africa Limited and Toleza.