Cotton raked in K10.7 billion during the 2018/19 season at an average farm gate price of K398.00 per kilogramme (kg), figures from African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) show.
Almost 80, 000 farmers grew cotton this year, a down from 300,000 in 2012/13.
“Seed cotton quantities have increased during this growing season with unofficial results projecting production levels by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, at about 27,000 metric tonnes, which is higher than the 2017/18 season’s 10,000 metric tonnes. Despite improved production levels, the figure remains low in comparison with regional and global figures.”
“The complete failure of the local seed variety used by a lot of farmers in Malawi has been a great determining factor for the low figures. Farmers who cultivated the hybrid seed were on average yielding 1000kg per hectare while farmers who cultivated recycled seed or other conventional open pollinated seeds such as chureza have yielded less than 600kg per hectare,” reads the AICC report.
This year, the Cotton Council of Malawi licenced three buyers including Afrisian Limited, Agri-value chain Ltd and Malawi Cotton Company (MCC) as they invested in the sector through the provision of inputs.
“There has been significant reform as far as restructuring of markets is concerned. Buyers were organised in designated market depots, all buyers competed for seed cotton within fair trading and competition rules. Market laws of demand and supply were prevalent and allowed to dictate pricing. Farmers had the choice of selling their cotton to desired ginners depending on pricing dynamics,” the report reads.
Cotton has been the fourth highest agricultural forex earner for years despite the huddles it has been facing.
In the past decade, Malawi has seen the rapid decline in cotton production from 100,000 metric tonnes in 2011/12 to around 10,000 metric tonnes in 2016/17.
Chief Executive Officer of the International Advisory Committee Kai Hudges, who recently visited the country, said Malawi has potential of bouncing back to producing more if it starts benefiting from scientific research whose results are helping other countries in Africa and beyond.
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