Malawi Cotton Withstands Dry Spell

The dry spell which is currently affecting other crops across the country will have little or no impact on cotton, experts have said.

African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) Chief Executive Officer, Felix Lombe told local media that there won’t be any significant impact of the dry spell on cotton crop.

He, however, cautioned that should the dry spells persist, the crop will be affected because beyond some water requirements, the crop will be affected.

“Cotton has an advantage because it is resilient because water content is slightly different from other crops. We, however, want to see a reverse of the situation in the next two weeks but otherwise the damage is not worrisome,” said Lombe.

He said instead, this year, output it is projected to rebound from around 11 000 tonnes last year on account of the hybrid cotton seed most farmers planted.

“We are expecting an observable improvement of about 1 000 tonnes or there about in the cotton sector as the crop is behaving well though challenges faced by farmers in the sector still persist,” he said.

Cotton Council of Malawi Executive Director, Crispin Luwanda agreed with Lombe, saying cotton is surviving these harsh weather conditions.

“We are still holding high prospects that we will this year have a good yield of cotton. Cotton in its nature is withstanding the dry spells and it is our hope that if rains resume if the next one week or two, cotton should be able to pick up.

“We are, therefore, hoping for a substantial yield this year considering that we have invested in seed supply to farmers and made arrangement for the distribution of pesticides in collaboration with ginners,” he said.

However, Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi (Cofam) president George Nnesa said though cotton crop is resistant to dry spells, they fear the situation may negatively affect production.

“Farmers have this year planted a lot of cotton and the privileged few had access to a better-yielding crop variety. Nonetheless, dry spells remain a major threat to us all,” he said.

Cotton, which is one of the country’s largest cash crops along with tobacco, sugar and tea, generates substantial revenue for the country and thousands of farmers benefit from the crop directly or indirectly.

Over the last seven years, cotton output has dropped by 90 percent from 100 000 tonnes in 2010 to around 11 000 tonnes last year.

This year, output is projected to jump to 13 000 tonnes, according to Aicc.