‘Cotton cultivation potential must be realised’

ZAMBIA has huge potential for cotton production as only 30 percent of the country’s land area suitable for cotton cultivation is being utilised, Cotton Development Trust director Lwisya Silwimba has said.
In an interview recently, Mr Silwimba said 300,000 hectares of land out of 1,000,000 hectares is devoted to cotton production in the country’s major growing regions of Eastern, Southern, Central and Lusaka provinces.
Mr Silwimba, however, cited the lack of mechanisation as a threat to high cotton yields and under-utilisation of farming land.
“Cotton production is labour-intensive, so cotton farmers in the country are not able to cultivate beyond a hectare each without mechanisation,” Mr Silwimba said.
He noted that several factors contributed to farmers maintaining low cotton production.
“In Southern Province, a large number of animals that were being used for cultivation have been dying resulting in the province dropping to third position from top of cotton production,” he said.
He also said the low cotton price on the international market is another obstacle to farmers who may want to increase the hectarage of seed cotton production.
“Ginners use international prices to calculate the local price which is pegged at K3.00 per kg of seed cotton,” Mr Silwimba said
He said the low price of seed cotton has also led to some farmers abandoning the crop to cultivate cheaper seeds of fast generating income crops such as maize.

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