Cotton farmers to share in $600,000 project
March 19, 2018—Ugandan cotton farmers and ginners will benefit from part of a $600,000 project intended to help them add value to their harvests and earn more income from the crop which can be grown over many parts of the country.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is providing the money which will also be shared with Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Government, in collaboration with the development partners such as UNCTAD will ensure that all stakeholders in the cotton subsector are equipped with modern skills needed in turning cotton by –products into useable products “She promised,” Mrs. Ethel Kamba, an undersecretary in the agriculture minister said last week.
She was speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi during the Uganda National Capacity Building Stakeholders workshop for the Cotton Sub sector in Kampala. The forum was organised by the Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) and UNCTAD.
The four countries are part of Cotton By-Products Value Addition Programme being supported by UNCTAD.
Kamba said there is more financial gain in dealing with cotton by-products up the value-chain, but the challenge has been that many farmers lack the skills to venture into such businesses. Cotton production in Uganda has fallen off from the high volumes recorded in the 1970s and many farmers have abandoned the crop due to what they considered low returns.
The project is expected to improve the capacity of cotton value chain stakeholders, including government officials, the private sector and farmers’ associations in Uganda to assess the market opportunities for cotton by-products. Money will also go into improving the capacity of policymakers to formulate evidence-based policies that promote the value addition of cotton by-products; and, devise investment profiles to attract potential investors in the cotton and textile sectors.
CDO managing director, Dr. Jolly Sabune, said they will ensure that stakeholders in the cotton sector access modern technologies which can support them.
“Our greatest focus is on providing the best possible technologies for production and providing more opportunities for the youth to get involved and earn from cotton growing, given our assured market from the ginners. The cotton sub-sector is already paying close to UGX50 billion (about $13.5 million) to the farmers, many of whom were formerly deprived by war in Northern Uganda,” she said.
However, Adams Bwambale representing the Uganda Ginners and Cotton Exporters Association said before the government talks of adding value to cotton by-products, it should also give priority to the crop by investing more resources to support farmers to enhance their production capacity.
He said, “Cotton can bring profits to farmers in only six months. Cotton will deliver a bigger turnaround of the economy if we invest more in boosting production and extension services.”