Malawi Cotton Company in collaboration with Cotton Council of Malawi Friday launched a cotton input support initiative which is intended to resuscitate the country’s dying cotton industry.
The initiative, which is receiving support from the Chinese government, will target close to 6000 farmers in the pilot phase
Speaking at the launching ceremony in Salima, Malawi Cotton Company representative Webber Chen said the initiative has been inspired by the downward spiral of cotton production due to poor market prices, ill weather and lack of input support initiatives.
“As a cotton company, we were so concerned bearing in mind that cotton is one crop that helps farmers earn a living. At the same time as a Ginner, we would not have cotton to gin if farmers completely abandoned the crop,” Chen said.
He went on to disclose that the cotton company plans to construct a textile factory in Salima and would want abundant supply of cotton as a raw material.
The input support initiative will see 1000 farmers receive free high quality Chureza cotton seed while 5000 others will get the seed on 100 percent loan repayable after cotton sales.
Guest of honour at the launch was Director of Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Maxwell Tsitsi.
In his speech, Tsitsi advised farmers to operate in groups so that they can fully maximize and exploit on the initiative through easy access to lucrative cotton markets.
“Collective marketing is beneficial to both the farmer and the ginner. For well organised farmers, it is easy to repay input loans. Adoption of various innovations in agriculture is also easily achieved when farmers organize themselves in groups,” Tsitsi said.
Executive Director for Cotton Council of Malawi Cosmas Luwanda said most farmers abandoned cotton production because of a disorganized market system which created loopholes for crooked vendors to exploit small scale farmers.
Luwanda said plans are underway to restructure the cotton market in an effort to increase the volume of cotton produce from farmers.
“We are moving swiftly to employ inspectors who will be full time on the ground assessing the cotton market,” he said.