Cotton prices improve as bad weather reduces production

Wednesday September 5 2018


By Halili Letea @hletea

Dar es Salaam. Cotton farmers have something to smile about following an increase in prices in the world market.

While demand for cotton is high, production has fallen.

The Bank of Tanzania economic bulletin for the second quarter of 2018 shows that global prices for cotton increased to $2.1 per kilo in June this year, from $1.9 in a similar period last year.

“Prices of cotton increased due to high global demand and low production in major growing countries following unfavourable weather conditions,” noted the report.

Agriculturalists say successful cultivation of cotton requires a long frost-free period, plenty of sunshine, and a moderate rainfall, usually from 60 to 120 cm (24 to 47 in). Soils usually need to be fairly heavy, although the level of nutrients does not need to be exceptional. In general, these conditions are met within the seasonally dry tropics and subtropics in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, but a large proportion of the cotton grown today is cultivated in areas with less rainfall that obtain the water from irrigation. Cotton is among the major cash crops in Tanzania and it is only grown on the Mainland. A total of 381,021 farmers were engaged in growing cotton in the agricultural year 2016/17.

The total area planted with cotton was 397,491 hectors.

Busambilo Amcos chairperson and farmer Zainabu Mahenge told The Citizen that despite having the government indicative prices for cotton, middlemen were still a problem. “Middlemen do not pay taxes to the cooperative unions after they took our products which make it difficult for us to operate the union,” the chairperson in Nyang’hwale Village in Geita District was quoted as saying.

Tanzania Cooperative Development Commission and the Warehouse Receipts Regulatory Board in July promised to work together with farmers in collecting their produce and store them in registered warehouses in the next harvests so that they can sale them in auctions.