Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) has said the textile manufacturing plant to be constructed in Salima will promote the crop’s value addition.
CCM chief executive officer Cosmas Lwanda said in an interview on Friday that Chinese owned Malawi Cotton Company, which has a ginning plant in Balaka, plans to use locally produced cotton at the Salima textile plant.
“The plant is currently on its way from China and installation is expected to take place this year,” he said.
Lwanda noted that the Chinese firm is running a number of initiatives, including supporting farmers to produce quality cotton to match the increased demand on the world market.
He explained that the installation of the plant would help to increase demand for cotton, and farmers need to take up the challenge to supply adequate raw materials for production purposes.
“We view this as an opportunity for cotton farmers throughout the country that they have ready market for the cotton produce and they need to increase their capacity for value addition [other] than exportation of raw cotton.
“It has the benefit of employment creation and skills transfers to many Malawians,” said Lwanda.
Last year, CCM officials met members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture to brief them on their plans to revamp the cotton sector.
One of the committee members, John Chikalimba, said according to their record, Chikwawa, another cotton growing district in the Shire Valley, has more cotton farmers as compared to Salima.
“Look at Chikwawa District which has 22 553 cotton farmers from 2 159 cotton farmers clubs covering 23 841 hectares from six extension planning areas [EPAs] while Salima has 1 484 cotton farmers from 147 farmers clubs covering 1 484 hectares in seven EPAs,” he said.
Chikalimba said Chikwawa is the ideal district to have a textile plant, but added that could be the choice of the company.
He said developments [textile plants] of this nature needed wider consultations to come up with a firm decision for the benefit of all Malawians.
Chikalimba said unless the current data has some shortfalls that Salima has more farmers than Chikwawa, then that would be in order for development of the cotton sector.
Malawi Cotton Company is based in Balaka with sub offices in Salima and Ngabu in Chikwawa.
Cotton output has over the past seven years dropped from a record of 100 000 metric tonnes (MT) in 2010 to around 15 000MT in 2017 largely due to lack of an input supply system, according to Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi (Cofam).
Cofam said in 2010, output increased largely due to a K1 billion cotton fund government set up which was being managed by cotton ginners.