Cotton farmers protest prices
Cotton farmers are reportedly hoarding their crop in protest against the K580 per kilogramme (kg) government set minimum price, The Daily Times understands.
This year’s cotton market opened on Friday but selling has been slow despite ginners setting up buying points in most growing districts.
In an interview on Monday, Cotton Farmers Association (Cofa) President Lapson Zidana said pricing remains a delicate issue.
He said an analysis by Cofa showed that farmers could make only if the minimum price was set at K650 per kg.
“We are proposing a meeting with the ginners so that they may consider increasing the price,” Zidana said.
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said he would engage stakeholders in deciding way forward.
“This is the first time I am hearing about the matter but I will take it up and engage the Cotton Council and the Farmers Association to understand what is happening and how best we can move forward,” Kawale said.
Agricultural policy expert Leonard Chimwaza said the farmers’ action is justified as selling at lower prices would mean incurring losses.
He called on the ginners to consider adjusting the prices upwards.
Figures from the Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) show that the first crop estimates peg output at around 15,000 metric tonnes (mt).
This represents a 30 percent plunge from 19,500 mt produced last year.
Last year, earnings from cotton grew by 170 percent to K9.75 billion from K3.6 billion in 2021 according to CCM figures.
Cotton industry was at its peak during the 2011-2012 season where 100 000 MT was produced after the government injected $10 million (about K7.3 billion then) in the cotton sector for financing.
The funds were supposed to revolve in the sector but ended up being depleted by those who were meant to benefit from.