Malawi has opportunities in cotton by-products

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Christina Zakeyu has said the country has an opportunity of investing in cotton by-products which has a huge market potential.

She made the remarks during the 1 Validation Workshop on the feasibility study on the development of cotton by-products in Malawi, on Tuesday in Lilongwe.

The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Trade under a project implemented by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

It aimed at assessing the feasibility on the development of cotton by-products in Malawi, identify priority cotton by-products, assess the investments and technologies needed, analyse the roles of existing and potential stakeholders and reviewing government policies on the cotton sector.

“The potential of up scaling cotton production in the country is high. The Country grows cotton mainly for lint. However, demand for cotton by-products such as edible oil and seed cake has been increasing because of their high commercial value.

“The country can take advantage of this increased demand for cotton by-products to up-scale its production and in addition to the global demand of lint cotton,” she said.

Zakeyu bemoaned the declining levels of cotton production in the recent times.

“This trend calls for government as well as the private sector players to intervene in the sector by coming up with strategies that can unlock the issues affecting the cotton sector,” she said.

Zakeyu: there is a high demand of cotton by-products. Pic by Sylvester Kumwenda (Mana).

Amongst other issues, the stakeholders meeting focused on elaborating on how farmers can best benefit from cotton by-products and identifying opportunities for Public Private Partners projects (PPPs).

Around 200,000 small holder farmers in the country currently depend on cotton farming for their livelihoods.

Private consultant who carried out the study, Dr Mavuto Tembo said the study revealed that current

policy environment was unfavourable for cotton by-products, for example, farmers are expected to burn cotton stalks after harvest.

There is lack of knowledge of the by-products market to stimulate production, and lack of capacity and skills to produce by products.

“However, some of the strengths in Malawi cotton industry that can lead to the potential growth of cotton by-products include the availability of legal and policy framework governing the cotton value chain.

“The high demand of seed oil, availability of ginners, and the increasing demand of bio-energy demand for domestic and industrial use,” Tembo said while presenting the document.

The Study recommends the review of the cotton Act of 2013 to provide for cotton seeds and stalks to be marketed, creation of an improved regulatory framework to allow for a competitive cotton industry.

Also, reliable, stable and improved prices, increase cotton production and productivity, develop cotton by-product value chains through PPPs and establishment cooperatives for better bargaining power,

UN Resident Coordinator Representative, Paul Turnbull said agriculture remains key to the progress of the country and cotton, being in the top four cash crops in the country was vital to the country’s economy.

He said opportunities in the cotton sector provides an opportunity for investment, enhancing productivity and commercialization.

“The United Nations is able to give some technical assistance and that is one important thing in this feasibility study, as it looks at the technical aspects of cotton by-products and make recommendations that could be adopted here in Malawi,” Turnbull added.