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Cotton farmers feel abandoned

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Some cotton farmers in the country say they are stranded with tonnes of the crop as there is no stable market due to shortage of buyers this season.

Some growers are opting to sell their commodity to vendors at low prices, a situation that would affect earnings this season.

This comes as only state-run grain trader, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is buying the produce as other ginners pulled out due to Covid-19 pandemic.

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But commentators have been saying that Admarc might not be able to buy the 45 000 metric tonnes of cotton seed estimated to have been produced this season as it does not have financial capacity.

Some farmers we spoke to claim that they are unable to sell their cotton seed to Admarc, as they are told that the entity does not have money.

Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi president, Dickson Gundani, said the association is engaging authorities on the matter.

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“We are confident that by next week everything will be sorted,” Gundani said.

Cotton Council of Malawi Executive Director, Cosmas Luwanda, said in an interview yesterday that the problem stems from the ginners not being comfortable with set prices, hence, their absence on the market this season.

“The ginners wanted the prices to be lower because the demand on the international market had declined owing to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Luwanda said.

Agriculture commodities market analyst, Leonard Chimwaza, said the trend could affect efforts by the government to make cotton the next big thing for Malawi.

“It is very worrisome to see cotton farmers stranded in times like these. The market usually affects the farmer’s livelihoods and future of cotton production. The unwavering will of the key stakeholders is need at all cost,” Chimwaza said.

The cotton market started on April 9 with minimum price for Grade ‘A’ cotton pegged at K389 per kilogram (kg) while minimum price for grade ‘B’ was K310 per kg.

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