By Taonga Sabola:
Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) in conjunction with the Nchalo Greenbelt Limited have embarked on a project to experiment on irrigated cotton production.
The project comes at a time cotton production in Malawi has remained subdued, with the country producing only 15,000 metric tonnes of the crop during the last growing season.
This is the first time ever Malawi to attempt to grow cotton in the dry season.
Admarc Board Chairman, James Masumbu, said the initiative would help Malawi grow cotton twice a year, thereby improving production figures.
Speaking after inspecting the project site at Nchalo in Chikwawa District, Masumbu said the board is impressed with how the project is shaping up.
“We are very impressed because, when the idea was floated, we had our doubts as a board that this would work very well so we insisted that we come here and have first-hand information.
“This is a new idea and new innovation and we are happy it is coming out well,” Masumbu said.
The initiative is being supported by Export Development Fund (EDF).
Masumbu could, however, not indicate how much would be pumped into the project, saying they are inventing more money.
Cotton Council Executive Director, Cosmas Luwanda, described the initiative as a game-changer for Malawi’s cotton industry.
Luwanda said growing cotton more than once a year would significantly boost production.
“You see, we have around 200 hectares under cotton production here using the right inputs and hybrid seed varieties that are high yielding.
“The high-yielding varieties can give up to 3,500 kilogrammes (kg) of seed cotton per hectare as compared to the 700kg per hectare the industry produces,” Luwanda said.
Malawi’s cotton industry has been on the downward trend in recent years due to, among other things, the lack of a sustainable input system.
Cotton production hit a record high of above 100,000 metric tonnes around 2011 when Capital Hill rolled out a K1.6 billion support initiative