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Cotton industry seeks $30 million

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Stakeholders in the cotton industry are lobbying government for an injection of $30 million as a short-term measure to boost cotton production.

The players are being led by the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) and include the Cotton Council of Malawi and Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi.

Although Malawi’s fourth major foreign exchange earner, cotton production has continued to decline over the years now averaging yields less than 600 kilogrammes per hectare.

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Uncertainty of availability of inputs and reliable markets are among the factors that have led many cotton farmers to seek alternative high value crops.

AICC Chief Executive Officer Felix Lombe said the proposed injection represents less than two percent of the government budgetary support but will culminate into an initial four percent of total Gross Domestic Product contribution in the first two years.

Lombe observed that cotton production has tumbled from 100,000 metric tonnes in 2011 to 15,000 metric tonnes now, risking the livelihoods of cotton farmers and the economy.

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Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi is now registered but has weak grassroots structures and does not have a functional and independent secretariat.

“Continued dismal performance of the sector makes an extra economic and business sense for the proposed injection. With the current system, everybody is a loser.

“The multiplier effect of cotton industry as well as its forward and backward linkages cannot be equally ignored. If nothing is done, the sector risks crashing beyond the current level,” he said.

Cotton is grown by between 200,000 to 400,000 smallholder farming families and creates direct employment for about 200,000 farmers and over 800,000 dependents with a value of S$ 26.5 million.

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