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‘Cotton sector can create 40,000 jobs’

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Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) has said the cotton sector has the potential to create 40,000 employment opportunities in the country.

CCM Executive Director, Cosmas Luwanda, said this recently during a follow up visit to cotton fields by Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation in Ngabu, Chikwawa District.

He said the employment opportunities could be achieved if farmers increased cotton production to 100,000 metric tonnes per year.

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“We have failed to attain this level in the past few years because the Cotton sector lacked financial support to sustain its programmes,” Luwanda said.

He said once proper marketing and seed production systems are put in place the country could reach the expected levels of production to satisfy the local and international market demand.

A Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation, Benedicto Chambo, who is also an agro-dealer in Mangochi, said the government should consider supporting research services to develop locally made cotton seed.

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Chairperson of Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM), Martin Mpata, said the country’s ginners have capacity of handling 250,000 metric tonnes of cotton per year. “There are good prospects in terms of cotton production since smallholder farmers are using variety Mahyco Hybrid Cotton seed from Quton Malawi Limited, which produce 2,000 metric tonnes per hectare.

We are discouraging farmers from using Chureza which has low production rate of 600 kgs per hectare,” Mpata added. Cotton Farmers Association in Malawi president, Dickson Gundani, said in the past, farmers were facing challenges in accessing seed and pesticides which forced many to abandon the sector.

He said with the new arrangement, more farmers would be encouraged to get back to production.

“We are appealing to authority to make sure that farmers are supplied with seeds and pesticides in time. Once farmers have inputs in place at right time cotton production will increase for the better,” Gundani suggested.

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