Government has the interests of cotton farmers at heart hence the allocation of K1 billion in this year’s national budget intended to support the development of the cotton, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.
He made the remarks at the official launch of the Cotton Production Campaign for the 2019/20 season held at Kankao Ground in T/A Chanthunya’s area, Balaka, Wednesday, November 6, 2019.
“Development of the cotton subsector is at the heart of government as it directly impacts over 300,000 farmers who rely on cotton for their income and livelihoods,” said Nankhumwa, appealing to cotton farmers to manage their cotton very well by following good agricultural practices so that they produce more seed cotton and of good quality.
He noted that Malawi is an agricultural country whose economy heavily relies on tobacco as the major foreign exchange earner. He noted that, unfortunately, demand for tobacco is declining globally due to the antismoking lobby, championed by World Health Organization.
“There will a time in future when tobacco may not be fetching enough for the development of this country. There is therefore need for Malawi to diversify into other cash crops and products in order to attain economic stability and sustainability.
“One of the most viable crops, which government through my ministry is seriously committed to promote and develop as it was done with tobacco is cotton in order to meet local and export demand. Cotton has been ranking fourth as a foreign exchange earner for the country for several years after tobacco, tea and sugar.
“Cotton has immediate potential to impact Malawi’s economic growth for several reasons including the creation of more jobs if the integrated cotton value chain is revived and becomes more vibrant. This includes ginning the lint, yarn manufacturing, weaving, cotton textiles, oil and animal feed processing,” explained Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
The minister despite various potential economic benefits, national cotton production has experienced low production levels in the recent years.
“Government under the dynamic leadership Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has therefore considered it imperative to resuscitate production to more attractive levels in order to derive meaningful benefits from the cotton industry. In this regard, the government has allocated MK1.0 Billion during this financial year to boost cotton production in the country.
“In addition, government with support from development partners and other stakeholders has developed the Malawi Cotton Development Strategy (MCDS). This is a strategic framework to guide development of the Cotton Sub-Sector in Malawi through the period 2019/20 – 2023/24. The strategy is emphasizing on the adoption of high-yielding cotton varieties, irrigated cotton production and the implementation of a structured marketing system if cotton is to be a valuable source of income for all cotton value-chain players,” said the minister.
He disclosed that to kick-start the strategy implementation, his ministry “in collaboration with the Cotton Council of Malawi and the cotton ginners” will conduct a special one-month long campaign on cotton production in this 2019/2020 growing season.
“Today, therefore marks, an important point of departure for the cotton subsector in the country as I officially launch the 2019/20 Cotton Campaign in Malawi,” said Nankhumwa.
He said the purpose of the campaign is to improve the wellbeing of smallholder cotton farmers and contribute to the country’s economic growth.
“The programme aims to increase cotton productivity through use of high yielding cotton varieties and recommended pesticides as well as foliar fertilizer; increase the number of smallholder farmers growing the crop and incomes thereby contributing to poverty reduction; and enhance national export earnings through increased exports of cotton lint and other cotton products.
Other high-profiled people who graced the event included the Chief Director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr. Yanila Mtupanyama Board Chairman for Cotton Council of Malawi, Martin Mpata, Executive Director for Cotton Council of Malawi, Cosmas Luwanda, Member of Parliament (MP) for Balaka West, Bertha Ndewele and Inkosi (T/A) Chanthunya.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :