The Malawi cotton industry has faced difficulties in production and sales in 2018; Biznews takes into account all factors contributing to both the production and sales of cotton.
Earlier this year, amidst the cotton selling season, Cotton Council of Malawi’s Executive Director, Cosmas Luwanda, announced that production would be lower because of pests which attacked the crop due to a dry spell.
Cotton requires long vegetation periods (175 to 225 days) without frost; constant temperatures between 18 and 30° with ample sunshine and fairly dry conditions. Adding to that, a minimum of 500 mm of water between germination and boll formation. In 2017, the dry season was longer and more heated, therefore the conditions weren’t suitable for cotton.
A source at Iponga Cotton, Malawi’s manufacturer and exporter, shared on farmers were no longer willing to grow cotton. The source, which chose to be unnamed, revealed that there has been an overbearing demand from buyers. “The quantities they are looking for weren’t equal to their buying price, so farmers either stopped growing cotton or they grew only enough”
In April, buyers announced that there was a 17% increase, perhaps to encourage the farmers that had given up. The fact remained, that there was low cotton production and hence only a few farmers benefited from the increase rate.
In May, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, introduced a new cotton strategy that was aimed at improving the production of cotton by 2023. At the presentation, it was admitted that the cotton industry has faced many challenges that lead to poor sales and production in the last 4 years, but Government promised that to make it a mission to restore the cash crop back on the market.