By Tione Andsen
Agriculture Parliamentary Committee has said meaningful investment I the Cotton sector could help the country to have rightful replacement of tobacco in view of anti-smoking lobbies.
Chairperson of the Committee, Sameer Suleman said this Saturday in Chikwawa when members of the Committee visited Cotton fields at Mikalango Extension Planning Area (EPA).
He said the country has largely depended on Tobacco for years for its foreign exchange earnings but now it’s facing low production as a result of continued anti-smoking lobbies.
Suleman added that Cotton investment could help smallholder farmer’s access quality Cotton hybrid seeds and chemicals for their prosecutions.
“Parliament had approved budgetary allocation K 1 billion to the Cotton sector through Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) to use the funds for the revival of the cotton industry in the country.
We are satisfied as Committee with what we have seen in terms of crop standing and we believe that this year’s production will be slightly higher than last year,” the Chair said.
He said CCM has put in place mechanism to utilize the funds allocated and ensure increased Cotton production in the country.
Suleman added that the Committee had noted some issues which need to be addressed like shortage of extension workers, supervisors and lack of cotton sprayers for the farmers.
Chairperson for CCM, Martin Mpata said smallholder farmers have been supplied with a better seed this year unlike last year with the hope of increased yield production per hectare.
He blamed some Cotton Seed Vendors who were supplying fake seeds to the famers and as a result yield per hectare was 600kg very low.
“Farmers were using Chureza variety which was not high yielding variety and this time around, Farmers have used Mahyco Hybrid Cotton seed from Quton Malawi limited,” Mpata explained.
President of Cotton Farmers Association In Malawi, Dickson Gundani thanked government for providing seed money into the Cotton industry in order to revive the sector.
He said the funds have helped the Farmers to acquire appropriate seeds and chemicals and sprayers for use in the fields.
“Farmers have realized that they have huge potential of reviving the Cotton industry. We have agreed with the Ginners that the selling price of Cotton should start from K350.00 per Kg. In view of this most farmers have increased their production areas,” Gundani pointed out.
The Committee members visited the cotton fields, Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons in Makata and Afrisian Ginnery in Lunzu, Blantyre.