Cotton Output, Farming Declines in Zambia

Cotton Output, Farming Declines in Zambia

In March of 2011, cotton prices in Zambia reached their highest. However last year prices dropped 6.5 percent adding to what’s now an overall 62 percent drop since peaking, The Post Zambia reported.

In the midst of the decline, farmers who lost profits reduced or completely stopped producing the crop — a move Cargill Cotton project manager Emmanuel Mbewe says isn’t best for smallholders nor the larger farming industry.

“That is [the] idea we are pursuing at Cargill to give more chances and opportunities so that when there are these fluctuations which inevitably takes place on the world market, the farmers are in a sense fortified against them,” Mbewe said in regards to encouraging farmers to grow multiple crops.

“If the farmer can do both cotton and maize, it means that the exposure he gets to what happens to cotton is mitigated by the benefits from maize or soybeans.”

Roughly two years ago Zambia’s cotton output totaled close to 270,000 metric tonnes, Mbewe said. Now, only 110,000 tonnes are being produced in the country. According to The Zambia Post, while China is the world’s largest cotton consumer, business from the country is expected to drop as well.

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) foresees a 19 percent decrease in China’s cotton imports.

“We accept that when our farmers get knocked by these fluctuations, we also get knocked as well,” Mbewe added.

Last year the company’s 65,000 farmers produced 78,000 tonnes of cotton, down to 28,000 tonnes this year, the report noted.

August 1, global output was estimated to reach 25.34 million metric tonnes in 2013/14 — 355,000 tonnes less than the previous month’s estimation, The Post Zambia reported. The New York cotton market benefited from the drop. Prices in that market are now set at $2.02/KG for the month of October.