The Citizen (Tanzania)
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Mwanza. Cotton stakeholders have pointed out the absence of field extension services, poor quality seeds, shortage of pesticides and lack of markets as among the challenges hindering the development of the cotton sub-sector in the country.

Presenting his preliminary report on challenges and what needs to be done to increase cotton production, Prof Reuben Kadigi told the stakeholders from across the country, including farmers, agricultural inputs agents, buyers, exporters, processors and quality control instruments, that the only way to improve and increase cotton production was to establish small, medium and large processing factories in the country to reduce the rate at which cotton is being sold as a raw material.

According to Prof Kadigi, Tanzania currently can manage to process only 30 per cent of its cotton, while the remaining 70 per cent is being sold as raw material.

“We are not only selling raw material, but also wasting employment opportunities for our people. This must change,” urged Prof Kadigi.

For his part, the Vice Chairman of the Tanzania Cotton Growers Association (TACOGA), Mr Godfrey Mokiri, said apart from making sure farmers get seeds and other inputs in time, there is a need to have a special fund mandated to compensate farmers depending on world market prices.

“With proper advice from field extension officers on the best ways to increase production, we should also aim at introducing small industries in our areas to add value by making the spindle fibres and finally clothes instead of selling our cotton as raw material,” said Mr Mokiri

Commenting on the quality and direct benefit to cotton stakeholders, a cotton buyers, Mr Mohamed Sharif from Birchad Group, urged the government and other relevant authorities increase efforts in regulating players including farmers, buying agents, extension officers, seeds and pesticide suppliers.

ACT Managing Director Janet Bitegeko said the council reached a decision to make a preliminary study of the challenges and the best way to control and efficiently manage the value of chain in the sub-sector.

Ms Bitegeko urged cotton stakeholders to join hands and fight together for their sectoral development.

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