By Wezzie Gausi:
Stakeholders in the cotton value chain have indicated that declining production and demand on the international market are devastating the cotton industry in the country.
One of the licenced cotton ginners Afrasian Limited said, this year, the country has produced quality cotton but could not fetch high prices on the international market due to reduced demand.
The company’s general manager Dinesh Pant said failure to attract better returns on the international market has been exacerbated by reduced production of the crop.
“The industry is yet to recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic. We are trying to sensitise farmers to grow more seed to increase production as it has been on the decline in recent years,” Pant said.
However, one of the cotton farmers from Chikwawa John Njoka said the development has stemmed from farmers’ frustration with low prices offered by the ginners in recent years.
“A lot of farmers were frustrated with what happened on the market last year when prices were very low and they kept the crop for a long time. Some even sold their crop on credit. There is hope, however, because we have seen an increase in the prices from the government set K320 per kilogramme (kg) to somewhere around K340 per kg,” Njoka said.
In an interview, Cotton Council of Malawi Executive Director Cosmas Luwanda conceded that production has significantly gone down this year by 62 percent compared to last year.
He said they were aware of the issue of prices being low and expects the situation to improve as the cotton will be bought and processed locally at a factory in Salima District.