Cotton body predicts output decline by 40%

Climate change and a reduction in the use of inputs will cause a massive drop in cotton production this season, according to stakeholders.

Apart from the 40 per cent drop in production, improper use of inputs will lead to the harvesting of low quality cotton.

Official statistics released by the Tanzania Cotton Association (TCA) show that there will be a drop in acreage from 1,420,000 acres of cotton farms in 2011/12 to 1,050,000 acres this season, a 40 per cent reduction.

Unveiling a report on the cotton industry, TCA secretary-general Boaz Abiero said the campaign by some politicians and cotton buyers against contract farming contributed much to the fall in cotton production this season.

“The damage is extensivce because the campaign against contract farming, which ensures a farmer of quality seeds, pesticides and other inputs, has disrupted the whole system,” said Mr Abiero.

One of the most damaging campaigns is the ‘No Book, No Cotton’ drive initiated by an MP in Bariadi District. In the campaign, farmers are asked not to sell their cotton for below Sh1,000 per kilogramme.

Mr Abiero said the low acreage this season would also hit production.

“About 1,050,000 acres of cotton have been planted this season, and are estimated to produce 250 million kilogrammes as opposed to last season when 354 million kilogrammes of cotton was harvested. The over 40 per cent drop is mostly due to the hate campaign against contract farming,” he said.

In Bariadi, Itilima, Maswa and Magu districts, most farmers who had cultivated over five acres last year, were forced to reduce the acreage to two and three this season.

Mr Abiero accused politicians of using cotton farmers for political expediency.

“They are out to gain political mileage,” he said.
Source: The Citizen, reported from Bariadi
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