Cotton production expected to decrease
Poor germination experienced in some parts of the country. There is a high probability of a substantial reduction in the production of cotton this year. This was observed during a joint monitoring exercise of cotton demonstration plots that the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) carried out together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development across the country.
It was observed that some farmers have given up on the crop due to poor market prices in the previous growing season while most have a poor germination rate due to erratic rains.
In most parts of the country, effective planting rains came late specifically from 9th January, 2016 which led to farmers planting late. However, in some parts of the country some rains were received on 16th December, 2015 prompting some farmers plant early giving hope for a good harvest.
The monitoring team examining the crops
AICC Monitoring, Evaluation and Communications Officer, Annabelle Gadabu who was part of the team said the results of the demonstrations is a mixed bag as some demonstrations have done very well while others have not. A case in point is that of McFallen Mzumara of Bwiba II in Mpata EPA in Karonga who planted cotton on his field on 15th January, 2016. However, germination on the mounted demonstration plot was observed to be very poor and the plants that germinated had curled leaves.
“What was observed in most EPAs is that there is a decrease in hectarage for cotton and the reasons are poor market prices last year, ginners are not giving out loans to farmers anymore and the erratic rains that have been experienced across the country.
“For instance, in Mvera EPA only 2 out of 10 planned demos were mounted due to problems of rainfall. Ntchisi too has been experiencing sporadic rainfall distribution pattern. First rains fell on 31st October 2015. However, effective planting rains fell from 17th December with subsequent effective rains received after a 2 week dry spell. This led to wilting of crops especially for those that had planted and intermittent germination in other farmers field. leading up to the 30th December when more rains poured,” she said.
Similar to this case is the Shire Valley where only 23 107 farmers have registered compared to the 68 131 who registered in the 2014/2015 growing season. This means that the number of cotton growers has decreased by 66 percent. The area has also experienced a decrease of 41 percent in hectarage.
Inspection team sharing notes
Every year, AICC together with Ministry of Agriculture and partners under the Cotton Platform put up cotton demonstrations across the country with the purpose of providing a learning platform for farmers in these areas as they showcase new technologies and best practices.
A total of 468 have been put up this year against the 780 planned demonstration plots.