Gatsby keen to boost Dar cotton industry

A cotton ginnery
The programme also involves the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) and is aimed at transforming the performance of Tanzania's cotton industry, doubling yields for over 400,000 farmers. 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tanzania Gatsby Trust, Ms Olive Luena, said this when launching this major long-term programme to transform the cotton farming.

"The programme assists TCB to implement the recently approved regulatory framework for introducing contract farming, which will include major policy work on pricing and quality in addition to input finance," Ms Luena said. 

Under the programme, the stakeholders want to increase yields from 750 kgs per hectare to 1500 kgs by 2010 and 2,500 kgs by 2015.

The output expected to be attained using conservation agriculture to cotton growing, aims at increasing the productivity at the farm level based on the well developed crop management practices for both cotton and food production. 

The method is a unique agriculture practice that involves simultaneously sustained use of four principles that are minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover - ideally 100 per cent using crop residuals, crop rotation and crop and livestock integration production.

The CEO said the programme will also facilitate universal access to improved cotton seeds, encouraging cotton farmers to adopt conservation agriculture and building the capacity of key sector institutions, in particular, the TCB. 

Last May, Lord Sainsbury met the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, in Mwanza and offered to help the ministry build the capacity of the TCB to support sustainable management and development of the sector.

cotton plantation
The Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GCF) would fund a strategic review of the TCB which would aim to review the needs of the sector and its stakeholders' vis-a-vis the regulatory body and the new functions of TCB. The foundation also offers to assess the existing capacity of TCB and propose an operational plan for the development and strengthening of the TCB to fulfill the agreed needs.

The cotton board's is mandated to improve and develop the cotton industry by promoting, facilitating and monitoring the functioning of the entire value chain including production, marketing, processing and export. Nevertheless, the sector is faced with constraints like fluctuating farm-gate prices, plummeting investment and low productivity. 

Addressing these constraints involves restructuring the industry where PricewaterhouseCoopers has been engaged by Gatsby to undertake the TCB review.

It is estimated that cotton contributes to the livelihood of about 40 per cent of the country's population and between 70 and 80 per cent of cotton harvested is exported as lint while the remainder is processed by the local textiles industries. In the last season about 250 million tonnes were expected to be bought from farmers.

TCB has since 2008 been promoting the development of contract farming which is organised marketing structure expected to regulate transactions, protect contracts, mitigate possible negative farm-gate price trends and build trust between stakeholders.
Source: The Daily News,
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