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Malawi sanctions MWK 1.6 bn to boost cotton output
18
Jun '11
The Malawi Government has sanctioned MWK 1.6 billion (over US$ 10.5 million) in its 2011-12 Budget to boost cotton production in the country. This step has been hailed by the Cotton Development Trust (CDT), a public-private sector partnership organization.

The Government has taken this step to help cotton cultivators to produce better quality cotton for domestic use and exports, owing to the attractive prices that cotton is reaping in all corners of the country.

The sum would be disbursed as loans to small farmers to ensure that they cultivate cotton on at least 200,000 hectares of land. This cotton is estimated to fetch MWK 45.6 billion (over US$ 300 million) in foreign exchange.

At the launch of a five-year 'cotton strategic plan' prepared by Techno-Serve International in Blantyre, CDT Chairperson Patrick Khembo stated that the Government's step has come at an appropriate time, which would not only help the cotton farmers but also improve the country's foreign exchange earnings that have been unstable during the last couple of years.

Mr. Khembo mentioned that the Government's decision to allocate funds is a result of its realization that the cotton programme has now become far more important than ever before.

He, however, added that the CDT expects that the amount allocated would be raised in next year's budget to persuade increasing number of farmers to engage in cotton cultivation.

Mr. Davis Rice, Chairperson of the Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi (COFAM), said that he is sure that the funds would be of great help in reviving the shrinking cotton industry, which is about to collapse.

However, he said that COFAM wanted to understand how many crop cultivators would gain from this move of the Government as well as the selection criteria for these farmers.

Around 200,000 families in Malawi are engaged in cotton cultivation. These families grow cotton on around 50,000 hectares of land in lakeshore regions, Shire Valley and the medium altitude regions of Phalombe, Neno, Machinga, Blantyre and Mwanza.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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