Cotton association of Zambia executive director John Ngwenyama says cotton is a life changing product worldwide that sustains 32 million growers and benefits over 100 million families across 80 countries in five continents.

Speaking during the World Cotton Day media briefing in Chongwe, Mr. Ngwenyama revealed that cotton plays a critical role in economic transformation, agricultural value chain development as well as agricultural international trade and poverty alleviation.

He said that cotton is an unquestioned success story of Zambia’s turn towards a market economy and offers a powerful tool for employment creation and poverty reduction.

Mr. Ngwenyama said after food, cloth is the most important basic need of human beings in the world but in the recent years the cotton industry has seen a sharp decline in production levels which has in turn affected farmers’ livelihoods.

He bemoaned the low yields which average between 300-400 kilograms per hectare depending on climate conditions.

He added that lack of extension services from trained and qualified personnel has remained a serious challenge coupled with unavailability of quality seeds and certified chemicals.

Mr. Ngwenyama noted with concerns that the cotton industry lacks a proper price setting mechanism hence leading to farmers to losing out as set prices don’t usually favour them.

He also revealed that nine companies engage with over 350,000 farmers in contract out-grower cotton production in Zambia annually though with major setbacks.

He also took time to reveal the message for world cotton day commemoration which will be held on the 7th October 2023 under the theme “Making cotton fair and sustainable for all, from farm to fashion.’’

Mr. Ngwenyama his association wants the farmers’ voices to be heard and called for the adoption of the proposed cotton bill in parliament.

He added that the Cotton Act of 2005 does not recognize the Cotton Association of Zambia as the farmer’s representative hence the genesis of the farmers’ problems as they have no voice.

He further called for value addition initiatives such as capacitating weavers at grass root levels with mechanization adding that cotton is a plant whose parts cannot be wasted. -NAIS