Monday, December 1, 2014

'State-run cooperative societies will bolster cotton production'

Shinyanga Regional Cooperative Union (SHIRECU) has called on the government to establish public cooperative societies if production of cotton is to improve.

Speaking over the weekend SHIRECU General Manager, Joseph Mihangwa said that some cotton farmers have abandoned cotton production and shifted to other crops as a result of exploitation by private buyers.

Mihangwa said having in place state-run cooperative societies will improve cotton farming which is now facing a lot of challenges.

Mihangwa who was releasing reports of closing cotton buying season, said farmers need to have a reliable market for their cotton if the production of the crop is to improve.

The cotton buying season was opened on June 16, this year and closed on November 13.

Cotton farmers have been complaining about the price of cotton saying that 750/- per kilogram is peanuts compared to the labour and other expenses incurred to produce a kg of cotton.

Mihangwa said in this year’s buying season, SHIRECU collected 5.1million kilograms worth 3.8bn/- against the target of 7.5 million kilograms.

He said the target was not reached because cotton production has plummeted after some farmers switched to other crops owing to the low prices of cotton.

Mihangwa said cotton farmers are also confused about the right types of seeds to use hence decide to abandon the crop.

“Politics is killing cotton farming, and unless the government intervenes by investing in cooperative unions, production of the crop will worsen,” he said.

He said cotton production in Shinyanga, Simiyu and Geita regions which used to produce massively has also decreased.

“For instance, in this buying season we got less from the three giant producing regions, we instead bought cotton from Kishapu, Meatu, Bariadi and Maswa districts only. We got nothing from Bukombe and Mbogwe. This is dangerous,” he said.

He mentioned some of the challenges facing cotton production as low prices and the tendency of some cotton farmers to add water or sand to increase weight.

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