Experts dispel fears on new cotton seeds

Experts from cotton-growing districts in the country have rubbished fears over germination problems of certified cotton seeds distributed for planting in this season.

They say germination depends on weather conditions and that where there are problems other factors could be at play including mishandling.

 “This year, we supplied farmers with delinted seeds. Those who were keen during the training on how to handle the seeds have not reported any problems so far,” said Ibrahim Msigwa, a cotton field officer in Geita District.

According to Dayton Chelahani, another cotton inspector in Shinyanga Region, all 60 cotton farmers under him have done well in the germination and planting processes. “At first they resisted because they lacked proper training,” he added.

“Here 52 out of 90 farmers have collected delinted seeds and there are doing fine,” said Charles Ndebalema, a cotton field officer in Chato District.

Contract farming recently received a shot in the arm after the minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Mr Christopher Chiza, announced a Sh4.8 billion subsidy that will enable farmers to buy quality cotton seeds at Sh600 per kilo instead of Sh1,200.

The cotton inspectors, however, noted that farmers were planting the seeds too far away from each other contrary to the recommended distance, depths or too many seeds in each hole, which they say could have resulted in a low germination count for some. 

“Also, instructions on the packaging could be confusing to farmers who are using the certified seeds for the first time,” another field officer reasoned.

They were speaking a week after councillors from Sengerema District lodged complaints to authorities over poor germination of the seeds and threatened a court action against Mr Chiza, who has been campaigning for the contract farming system.

Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) acting managing director Gabriel Mwalo admitted to have received the complaints.

“Since Saturday, experts from Ukiriguru Agricultural Research Institute, Quton Tanzania Limited and TCB have been surveying the areas said to have problems to establish the truth,” said Mr Mwalo.
Source: The Citizen, reported from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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