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Cotton output down by 62%

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By Wezzie Gausi:

Cotton production has reduced by 62 percent this season, figures from Cotton Council of Malawi show.

First-round crop estimates show that the country could produce 21,000 metric tonnes of the commodity this year, down from the 45 000 metric tonnes realised last year.

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Cotton Council of Malawi Executive Director Cosmas Luwanda told journalists on Friday that, this year; some farmers abandoned the crop due to disappointment with low prices the commodity fetched last season.

He also attributed the drop in output to the onset of Covid pandemic, which, he said, also led to a significant drop in the minimum farm gate prices locally.

Luwanda also said farmers perceived hybrid cotton seed as being very expensive compared to conventional open pollinated varieties.

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However, with use of the hybrid cotton varieties, according to Luwanda, yield per hectare has improved this season from an average of 700 kilogrammes (kg) to 1,500 kg.

“Last year the minimal price was set at K385 but due to the outbreak of Covid the price reduced to about K340 which meant a loss to the farmers, hence many of them did not grow the crop this year,” Luwanda said.

The minimum price for seed cotton for 2021 marketing season is K320 per kg of which K20 is farmer contribution to Cotton Development Fund.

However, the international market price has increased from 29 to 49 percent.

Luwanda said the set price currently ranges between $0.80 and $0.85 per lint.

Luwanda said the country will not rely on the international market alone because a new plant in Salima will buy flint from farmers.

Recently, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe announced farm gate prices for this year and declared that the market was fully opened.

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