Gabriel Mwalo, Acting Managing Director of the Tanzania Cotton Board
The government has been challenged to upgrade and subsequently increase the number of cotton factories across the country so as to raise the value of cotton produced domestically and to boost the internal market for the crop.
The challenge was made by Acting Managing Director of the Tanzania Cotton Board, Gabriel Mwalo in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
He said, currently the cotton sector in the country is experiencing price fluctuations in the international market caused by the lack of textiles industries that could purchase the crop from the farmers.
This is what has been pushing the farmers to sell their cotton outside the country.
“The price of cotton is not static, it is changing from time to time, some farmers went for farming after they have heard that the price of cotton is going to increase. However, this has cost them a lot in that the market can no longer guarantee them reliable prices for a long period of time, he said.
“The loss comes when the farmers cultivate huge acreages of cotton with expectations that they would sell the crop at higher prices. Suddenly the price drops resulting in much of the cotton being left to rot up,” Mwalo noted.
“According to him, the demand for cotton within the country is very low because no improvement has been made on textile industries that could use the crop to manufacture other commodities. The few available factories are in a dilapidated state,” Mwalo explained.
He said, it is however that, the available industries still have challenges on the running costs as they require much money to run.
“When we sell the cotton in the international market, we completely lose employment opportunities which might have been taken by Tanzanians. If the cotton were to be sold within the country then the industries would produce more jobs for youths,” he noted.
According to him, the sorters want to buy cotton at a cheaper price from the farmers, a thing which undermines the farmers.
Mwalo explained that, cotton farmers still face unreliable supply of agricultural inputs. Even though, when they are supplied they don’t come on time and in sufficient quantities.
Another challenge is that cotton produced in Tanzania is sold at a discount price in the international market because it contains dirt materials that lower its quality. The buyers are highly responsible for this as they often twist the balance to read the weight wrongly when measuring it.
The reason why the buyers employ such dishonest tactics is because they want to pay the cotton sellers less money compared to the amount of cotton supplied.
This often compels the farmers to add heavy materials including sand into the cotton so they could earn more weight and money.
Mwalo said, in solving the problem of poor seed, TCB in 2009 welcomed investors to produce a basic cotton seed for farmers far from the manual seed which farmer gave always said are not good.
However, the famers are still complaining that the seeds still sell at the high price of 1,600/- though the seeds are good for cotton production.
Tanzania Cotton Board is a statutory organization that was formed by the Act of Parliament No.2 of 2001, and is entrusted with the functions of overseeing the growth and sustainability of the cotton sub-sector.