Defaulters hurting cotton farmers
The Cotton Farmers Association (Cofa) has said failure by cotton growers to pay back loans for inputs has resulted in companies being hesitant to extend more loans to them.
Cofa President, George Nnensa, was speaking at Mikalango Extension Planning Area in Chikwawa when Afrisian presented prizes to cotton growers who excelled during the last growing season.
According to Nnensa, currently, cotton growers owe cotton companies over K1.3 billion in loans.
“It is high time we change our approach to loans. We need to learn to pay back loans,” Nnensa said.
Hesitancy by ginning companies to extend loans to growers this year is threatening cotton production in the 2017/18 season.
Malawi’s cotton production sunk to a new low last year when the country produced only 5,000 metric tonnes of the crop from around 100,000 metric tonnes around 2010.
“We need more support in terms of inputs to revamp the industry. This year more people have expressed interest to grow the crop after being disappointed by poor prices in purses.
“However, despite the increase in the number of people willing to grow the crop this year, lack of support in terms of seeds, hebicides and pesticides could still affect productivity,” Nnensa said.
He hailed Afrisian for motivating cotton growers through its rewards initiative. The event saw Afrisian presenting bicycles, sprayers and starter packs to cotton growers for their performance last year.
Afrisian Regional Manager, Nelson Dinyelo, said his firm rewarded the growers as one way of encouraging them to grow more cotton and sell it to them.
Dinyelo said the sharp fall in cotton production over the years has resulted in its ginnery performing below capacity.
He said his company’s ginnery has a capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes a year but that the fall in crop production in the country has resulted in them operating at less than half the capacity.
“We want producers to grow more cotton this year. That is why we have promised them that we will be back next year with more rewards.
“In addition, we have introduced other incentives such as crop and health insurance for the growers,” Nnensa said.