Tanzania's cotton yield likely to fall in 2016

Cotton production is likely to fall in this farming season due to excessive rains that pounded the crop producing areas, hindering farmers from planting the crop timely.

According to Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB), Acting Director General, Gabriel Mwalo, heavy rains that hit most of the crop producing areas in the western zone thwarted cotton planting.

Mr Mwalo said although the board has not yet conducted detailed analysis to determine the actual acreage, it was not possible to achieve the normal one million acres.

“Due to excessive rains, many farmers failed to plant the crop...and the cotton growers have a habit of starting planting food crops when the rains are good,” he told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam.

Asked about the supply of farm inputs, the TCB chief admitted that some of the seeds supplied to farmers had problems, with about 16,000 tones failing to germinate.

“The critical challenge that we face is that we rely on seeds from the cotton harvested in the previous season...and last year’s harvests were not good,” he said.

However, the board has already supplied 700,000 acre packs of pesticides to farmers, Mr Mwalo said. The country experienced acute shortage of cotton last year due to prolonged drought that hit the crop producing areas.

The board had earlier projected to harvest 250,000 tones of seed cotton but due to bad weather it ended up with 150,000 tones.

Mr Mwalo urged farmers to adhere to modern and environmental friendly agricultural practices to mitigate adverse impacts of heavy rains and floods. He reminded farmers to practise crop rotation as well as planting jatropha trees as some of the strategies to lessen the impact of torrential rains.

Cotton is one of the country’s major cash crop, supporting the economy of about 14 million people mostly in the Lake Zone Regions of Mwanza, Shinyanga, Geita, Simiyu, Mara and Kagera.

Though perceived as the traditional crop, majority of people are gradually snubbing the crop due to fluctuating prices, among other things.
Source: Daily News, reported from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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