The Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) has said it has set aside K100 million for the procurement and supply of seed to needy farmers.
In an emailed response to The Daily Times questionnaire, CCM Chairperson, Patrick Khembo, said the move is aimed at ensuring timely supply of seeds as well as boosting cotton production in the country.
“The council has never done this before. It has been done this on account of absence of willing financiers including our traditional partners [ginners] to do so. There are legacy issues connected with credit default by farmers,” said Khembo.
He admitted that the poor credit culture could also affect supply of even more important input, chemicals, for protection against pest attack, adding that efforts are underway to try and alleviate the problem.
Khembo said planting of the crop has gone on very well although growers in some areas such as the Lower Shire planted late due to delays in the onset of rains.
“God has blessed us with good rains. Ordinarily if such rainfall pattern was sustained throughout the season and farmers were able to carry out critical cultural practices such as weeding, thinning, and crop spraying we could easily expect a good crop, much bigger than the last two seasons.
“It remains to be seen if we can achieve that. Through the media may I appeal to all farmers to do the needful for the success of this season,” said Khembo.
Malawi last year registered a 43.2 percent decline in cotton production due to drought as well as pull out of some growers due to weak earning from the crop
But Khembo said the poor crop last year had nothing to do with shortage of farmers to grow the crop, saying many farmers planted cotton last season.
“The problem was drought and floods and effect of the pest attack mealy bug and some cases lack of adequate chemicals. Droughts and floods are a natural catastrophe,” he said.
Asked what the council is doing to hedge against a repeat of last year’s cotton crisis, Khembo said at national level they are aware that efforts are being made by authorities to deal with mitigation of environmental consequences.
“However, mealy bug attacks are partly self-inflicted by the farmers who do not observe closed season.
“As for attracting farmers Malawi has always paid good producer prices compared to the neighbouring countries so our farmers have every reason to be motivated,” he said.