The heavy rains experienced in East Acholi last year has seen a sharp decline in the quantity of cotton currently being harvested and sold outside the region.
East Acholi is considered one of the cotton basket in Acholi sub-region. In 2020, cotton farmers in the districts of Lamwo, Kitgum, Pader and Agago, collectively produced 30,000 bales of lint according to statistics from the Uganda ginners and Cotton exporters association.
Douglas Bhosopo, Coordinator of Uganda Ginners and Cotton Exporters Association says that unlike the bumper harvest experienced in 2019/2020, the quantity of harvested cotton is likely to be low this time.
Although he didn’t specify the exact quantity of cotton already being bought from the farmers currently, Bhosopo hints that the turn-up is low compared to last year around the same time.
He says thousands of hectares of cotton crops in the low lying areas within the region were submerged in water following heavy rainfalls in September towards late December leaving farmers unable to access their farms for weeding and spraying.
Bhosopo notes some cotton farmers especially in Lamwo District are now adapting to lucrative food crop growing such as sim sim, and thereby abandoning cotton farming between June to August. A kilogramme of Sim sim cost between Shillings 3,500 to 3,700 in the open market compared to cotton which costs between shillings 1,500 to 2,000 shillings.
He also notes that a few farmers out of those they had expected to grow cotton last year participated in the business, leaving a huge gap in the production of cotton. According to him, at least 39,000 farmers received seedlings from them but only 34,000 planted the cotton.
Innocent Kidega Nono, a cotton farmer in Orom Sub-county in Kitgum District says he planted cotton on a 10 hectares’ piece of land but heavy rains affected most of them.
Nono says he had anticipated harvesting 15,000 kilogrammes of cotton this season but notes that the available cotton in his farm that can be harvested and sold may only reach 2,000 kilogrammes.
He, however, says the continuous the fluctuating low price of cotton is greatly affecting its production in the region.
The Cotton Development Organization-CDO, tasked with monitoring cotton production, processing and marketing in the country earlier issued out an indicative cotton price at 1,500. However, in some ginneries and wholesale stores, cotton is being sold between shillings 1,600 to 2,000 a kilogramme.
Farmers have now been advised to take the opportunity of the early planting season this time around between March and June if they are to see a bumper harvest.
Orom Sub-County Chairperson Quirino Olum, alleges that some of the seedlings supplied last year to cotton farmers in his area failed to germinate, a reason that has contributed to low productivity.
Farmers within East Acholi were supplied with the high yielding QM301 and BTA2015A cotton seedlings.