Cotton ginneries in Zambia running on empty due to low production

Cotton ginneries in Zambia are slowing down as the country’s annual cotton production falls short of the 400 000 ton annual ginning capacity.

Cotton Board of Zambia (CBZ) Executive Director Dafulin Kaonga urged more farmers to venture into the production of the crop, saying worldwide
demand is increasing.

“There is potential for growth in the cotton industry, therefore, more farmers must diversify to grow cotton,” said Kaonga.

Cotton remained one of the most marketable crops after maize. The country’s cotton production experienced fluctuations in production over the last few years. In the 2013/’14 marketing season, production dropped to 95 000 tons from 102 000 and the succeeding year it increased to 130 000 tons. This year has also seen a marginal increase with prices rising to K3.70/kg compared to last season’s K3.20.

According to industry experts, a lack of predictable pricing contributed to the volatility in production. It led to 200 000 smallholder producers, engaged in various out-grower schemes, shunning the crop.

The producers rely on input pre-financing schemes operated by out-grower and ginning companies that buy the crop produced and deduct the value of the inputs from the money payable to the farmer.

Kaonga said the current price of cotton improved on the back of dwindling stock on the international market. “This creates a good opportunity for the cotton farmers as there is a ready market for the crop,” he said.

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