Invest in cotton by- products value chain-farmers told

KAMPALA, Uganda-Cotton farmers and Ginners in Uganda have been advised to add value to cotton by- products if they are to earn more from the crop.

The call was made by the Undersecretary Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ethel Kamba who delivered the key note speech on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Pius Wakabi during the Uganda National Capacity Building Stakeholders workshop for the Cotton Sub sector in Kampala.

The forum was organized by Cotton Development Organization, an agency at MAAIF and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Kamba said there’re more business opportunities to be exploited from the cotton by-products but the challenge is that some of the farmers lack the skills to venture into such business.

“Government in collaboration with development partners such as UNCTAD will ensure that all stakeholders in the cotton subsector are equipped with modern skills needed in turning cotton by –products into useable products, “Kamba said.
The Kampala cotton sector stakeholder’s forum was attended by government officials, cotton ginners, industrialists, researchers and farmers.

The major objective of the two days meeting was to share information about the economic potential of cotton by-products, how the private sector can invest in value addition on them, among others.   

Uganda is among the four countries from East and Southern Africa that were chosen to act as a pilot country for Cotton By-Products Value Addition programme which is being supported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Other states to benefit from the program include Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and the total cost of the program is $600,000.

The project is expected to improve the capacity of cotton stakeholders in the value chain, including government officials, the private sector and farmers’ associations in Uganda and to assess the market opportunities for cotton by-products, and improve the capacity of policymakers to formulate evidence-based policies that promote value addition on cotton by-products as well as devise investment profiles to attract potential investors in the cotton and textile sectors.

Speaking at the same event, the Managing Director of Cotton Development Organization, Jolly Sabune, said her organization will ensure that stakeholders in the cotton sector access modern technologies which can support them to add value to cotton by-products.

 "Our greatest focus is on providing the best possible technologies for production and providing more opportunities for the youth to get involved and earn from cotton growing. Given our assured market from the ginners, cotton sub-sector is already paying close to Ushs50bn to the farmers, many of whom were formally deprived by war in Northern Uganda. “She explained.

Adams Bwambale from the Uganda Ginners and Cotton Exporters Association (UGCEA) said before government talks of adding value to cotton by-products, government should give priority to investing more resources to support farmers to enhance their production capacity.

"Cotton can bring profits to farmers in only six months. Cotton will deliver a bigger turnaround of the economy if we invest more in boosting production, post-production and extension services.” He said.

According to Dr.Lastus  Serunjogi  Katende,  Plant Breeder and also Technical Advisor at CDO, cotton by products  such as  Linters which is the very short fibers that remain on the cottonseed after ginning are used to produce goods such as bandages, swabs, bank notes, cotton buds and x-rays.

Other by-products like cottonseed oil are used for manufacturing cooking oil and in products like soap, margarine and making animal feeds.

Serunjogi  said the selling off unprocessed cotton by farmers  creates bigger losses both to the country inform of revenue losses and to the farmers inform of cheaper farm gate prices which most cotton  ginners tend to pay per kilogram of cotton. 

Cotton is one of the leading cash-crops in Uganda providing raw materials for several local industries, such as oil and soap factories, textile industries and animal feed factories. Unfortunately, cotton production has dwindled in recent years, due, in part, to the declining returns that farmers derive from its cultivation. There are plans by the Cotton Development Organization to revive the cotton sector – through increasing cotton production.