Quton Malawi Limited, a sister company to Seedco Malawi Limited, says it wants to satisfy the domestic cotton sector with locally-produced seed before eying the international market in two years time.
The company’s general manager, John Lungu, explained this to Business News in Lilongwe over the weekend when the company hosted a Zimbabwe delegation to appreciate the strides that Malawi is doing in genetically modified (GMO) cotton varieties.
“Most cotton seed that Malawians have grown this year has come from locally-produced Quton seed. Last year was the first year for Quton to sell acid delinted cotton seed to the farming communities in Malawi and we sold about 700 tones of locally-produced cotton seed,” he said.
Lungu said Quton Malawi, which was incorporated in October 2011, has to import cotton seed from Zambia and Zimbabwe to satisfy the local market.
“We have not really satisfied the Malawian market and so we have a long way to go. We know that our neighbours don’t have enough seed and that will be an important opportunity for us to export,” he said.
Lungu said the company is engaging all players in the in the cotton value chain such as growers, input suppliers, the Cotton Development Trust, cotton ginners and the Ministry of Agriculture as a way of ensuring high quality cotton production in Malawi.
He said it is impossible for one institution to single-handedly champion new technology and called for all players to join hands.
On this one, Lungu said it is Monsanto Malawi which has developed technology while Quton has developed new cotton variety, Bt-Cotton, to make field trials successful.
He said the company’s vision and mission is to be Africa’s cotton seed house and to provide the best cotton planting seed in Africa, through breeding, multiplying and distribution of quality planting seed.
Bt-Cotton seed trails principal investigator Moses Kwapata said cotton production in Malawi and in the region at large stand to improve if farmers adopt new cotton technologies such as the use of GMO varieties.
He said currently, GMO cotton varieties are being tried in four areas namely; Toleza Farm in Balaka, Makoka Research Station in Zomba, Kasinthula Research Station in Chikhwawa and Chitala Research Station in Salima.
“This is very significant in the sense that we are in the main cotton growing areas in testing the GMO cotton to see if it is going to do well as it has done here at Bunda,” said Kwapata.
He said last year, trial results showed that the GMO cotton yielded double as much as the local varieties that farmers are growing in the country.