NGO bemoans dwindling cotton industry in Malawi

African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC) has called for government’s support towards the cotton industry which it says is on the decline.

Cotton pickers in Karonga

AICC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Felix Lombe said  despite being the country’s number four forex earner, cotton has over the years experienced low production levels hence the need for government and private sector intervention.

“The number of ginning companies has declined significantly from twelve in 2014 to less than six in 2016 due to among others low volume of cotton produced. Increasing production of cotton means that more ginners will be on the market to buy and gin cotton which will in turn create more jobs,” he said.

Lombe observed that other value added activities for cotton such as spinning, weaving, knitting and garment manufacturing have also shrunk in the last decade.

“Currently, Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons is the only spinning company in the country at the moment and utilize less than five percent of the lint produced domestically,” he said adding the country produced less than 15,000 metric tonnes of seed cotton in 2016.

According to Lombe, by increasing cotton production to over 50,000 metric tonnes a year, the country will be able to produce edible oil than import crude oil to supplement domestic cotton seed and again, exporting jobs and draining the much needed forex.

Government, during the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika reign, injected K1.6 billion which resulted in 100,000 metric tonnes of cotton produced the following year and since then, there has not been any meaningful government support towards inputs.

He said his organisation is therefore proposing an injection of US$ 4.8 million US Dollars by the government which will be out into a cotton fund.

Lombe pointed out, “It is expected that the injection towards the input fund would rejuvenate the sector by generating US$ 60.5 million in exports, US$26.5 million annually accruing to smallholder farmers and over US$50 million accruing to various players engaged in value added services.”

AICC is implementing programmes in the agriculture, governance and health sectors in the country.

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