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Govt undertakes revival of cotton growing activities
Sep '08
Mtiti Fakudze, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Swaziland is now convinced that resurging of cotton growing activities would play a crucial role in eliminating poverty, unemployment and hunger in the country.

While attending the re-launch of the Silkhulile Cotton ginnery in Big Bend, the minister took the opportunity to reiterate this fact that since the textile industry was investing heavy capital in enhancing the capacities and employment opportunities, cotton sector of the country also needs to assemble its battered strength and revive the sector for the benefit of the farmers.

Cotton prices this season have soared high by more than 50 percent which is an extra-ordinary opportunity for the farmers and industry to reap profits through commercial exchange of goods. Further, the Government financing for the project of reviving cotton industry would also ensure a guarantee price of E4.50 per kilogram seed in the upcoming season.

“The government of this country is convinced that the future of this country lies in agriculture and cotton in particular and farmers are urged to stand up and restore the glory of cotton to help it stake its claim to its rightful place”, asserted Mr Mititi.

Reverting to the past, it was recalled that in 2002, deteriorating economic conditions had its impact on the cotton industry of Swaziland which as a result suffered a downfall. Cotton harvest at that time had fallen to such drastic levels that it became nearly impossible for any ginnery to sustain operations.

While at that time, world price of cotton plunged due to subsidies paid to farmers in advanced countries, domestic cost of inputs, fuel and interest rates saw an unbridled hike, eroding the profits from cotton growing.

This awakened the Ministry of Agriculture, the Swaziland Cotton board and other major stakeholders, who decided to stand united against such adverse conditions. In 2005, they joined forces and undertook a strategic planning exercise to revive the once flourishing cotton industry.

The government has also contributed by granting financial assistance for the purchase of cotton inputs and cotton price support in the last few years and finally the minster expressed gratitude to those farmers who held on to cotton growing despite challenging times.

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