Cotton Farmers Petition Govt Over Low Prices

2342 Views Tororo, Uganda

In short
Cotton farmers in Tororo district have asked government to set a farm gate price for cotton to protect them from being cheated by the middlemen.

Cotton farmers in Tororo district have asked government to set a farm gate price for cotton to protect them from being cheated by the middlemen.
During a farmers' field work organized by Uganda Cotton Ginners Association at Mulanda sub county headquarters in Tororo on Thursday, majority of the farmers threatened not to sell out their cotton if government does not take interest to set a fame gate price for the crop.
The function was to give platform to farmers to share factors affecting cotton production in the country.
John Owor Otonya, one of the farmers says delays by government to announce cotton prices has given room for ginners' agents to exploit farmers as none of them is certain of the rightful prices for cotton.
Owor, who is also the Local Council 3 chairperson of Mulanda sub county, says some agents are now persuading farmers to sell to them cotton at 800 shillings per kilogram yet last year a kilogram of cotton was costing 1,000 shillings, something he says is an abuse of farmers' efforts. He said resulting from the disappointment; most farmers have left their cotton to rot in the gardens.
Another farmer, Patrick Kella, from the same area was bitter that government was deliberately killing cotton production in the country, a crop he said sustained Uganda's economy for decades. He cited the collapse of Cooperative societies and Cotton Unions which he entirely blames it on government.
Douglas Bhosopo, the managing director Uganda Cotton Ginners Association, said the association is engaging government and that very soon the right price will be announced. He said as they wait for government's position on the pricing of cotton, they should not sell their cotton to anybody who wishes to pay less than 1,000 shillings.
Bhosopo advised farmers to ensure that they provide proper storage for their cotton as a way to preserve quality and to avoid situations in which the product's value decreases.
He also announced that the association is in the process to recruit more extension officers to guide cotton farmers on proper management of the crop right from planting stage to the time of selling especially as they prepare to venture into massive cotton growing next season.
Patrick Okware, the Tororo District Agricultural Officer, appealed to the association to support farmers with inputs like pesticides, spray pumps and fertilizers on credit to ease production adding that most farmers have interest but are limited by resources.
Cotton prices hit record high in 2010 when they jumped from shillings 900 to 1,600 shillings per kilogram as the world cotton stocks diminished due to low supply and a robust demand.
Once one of Uganda's traditional key foreign exchange earners, cotton production slumped following a collapse in world prices in the early 1980s. However, production is stabilising especially after the restoration of peace in northern Uganda, a traditional cotton-growing region. Other cotton growing areas include Kasese, eastern and mid-western Uganda.
According to the agriculture sector annual performance review report for 2011/2012 Uganda's cotton industry has started recovering after production almost doubled in the 2010/2011 financial year.

Cotton production increased from 147,000 bales in 2010/2011 to 254,036 bales in the 2011/2012 financial year. As a result, cotton fetched 48 million US dollars in export earnings.