Access to inputs hinders cotton production

By Patricia Kapulula

Challenges such as inadequate access to inputs such as seed are said to have hindered the potential of cotton production in Malawi, as well as Southern Africa, making farmers shun growing the crop.

Department of Crop Development Deputy Director, Martin John Gausi, made the remarks in Salima on Tuesday during a field day on cotton seed multiplication.

He expressed concern that cotton production hactarage is going down as there are less farmers in the field, hence the need for partnerships so that farmers can access inputs at affordable prices.

“In the cotton sector, one of the challenges is availability of seed. Mostly, farmers access hybrid seed which is imported from India and is expensive. So the field day showcased alternative seed varieties such as OPV which farmers can also buy and grow the crop,” Gausi said.

He said in the uncertainty future of tobacco amid the global anti-smoking initiatives, cotton emerges promising to meet both local demand and contribute to export earnings.

Regional Head of Programmes for Solidaridad Southern Africa, Humprey Nxumalo concurred with Gausi, saying issues of access to seed is very crucial in as far cotton is concerned.

He said in order to increase production, his organisation has partnered with Cotton Council of Malawi, Masapa and Kvuno to establish seed that can be available to farmers at an affordable price.

Regional Operations Lead for Kvuno, Lydia Banda, described partnerships as important to enhance seed availability among smallholder farmers.

“Kvuno supports seed multiplication to ensure that farmers are accessing it at affordable prices as well providing alternative solutions to purchasing the seed such as loans and credit schemes,” she said.

The field day, which was held under the theme ‘Fair and Sustainable Cultivation of Cotton for all’ was done to celebrate OPV cotton varieties and demonstrate recommended agronomic practices.