UGX 924M To Reverse Declining Cotton Production in Kitgum

2533 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
Obote Acellam Karl Mark, the Manager of East Acholi Cooperative Union, says the new machines will replace an old, outdated and inefficient sets installed in 1951 to process at least 60,000 kilogrammes (60 tons) of cotton every day. The old machines have the capacity to process 40 tonnes daily. The union paid 13 million shillings in taxes for the new equipment.

Cotton production and processing in Kitgum district has received a boost of modern processing equipment worth 375,998 US dollar, approximately 924 million shillings.
 
The support, from Business Uganda Development Scheme (BUDS), is part of the Northern Uganda post conflict recovery program aimed at improving post-harvest handling, processing, storage and marketing of agricultural production through investment in essential equipment, Technical Assistance (TA) and training.
 
Obote Acellam Karl Mark, the Manager of East Acholi Cooperative Union, says the new machines will replace an old, outdated and inefficient sets installed in 1951 to process at least 60,000 kilogrammes (60 tons) of cotton every day. The old machines have the capacity to process 40 tonnes daily. The union paid 13 million shillings in taxes for the new equipment.
 
//Cue in “The whole…
Cue out:……for posho and oil.”//
 
Luo bite
 
//Cue in: “Cuma eni ……
Cue out:……dong kibuku.”//
 
Obote says installation will be complete by April 2014 and that the factory is in the process of acquiring other agro processing equipment for production of high value oil from cotton seeds in order to attract better prices that were never possible with raw agro produce.
 
The bulk of Uganda’s Cotton is exported to India, Thailand, Malaysia and Turkey with a kilogramme of unprocessed cotton currently fetching 1,100 shillings in the region. Cotton buyers have blamed this farm gate price on fluctuation in the World Market, stiff competition from other agricultural produce and changing weather conditions, as Ogen Alberto, the Secretary of East Acholi Cooperative Union explains.
 
//Cue in: “The projection of…
Cue out:…production decline.”//
 
Luo Bite
 
//Cue in: “Wanongo machine……
Cue out:…wakelo kany dong.”//
 
East Acholi Cooperative Union has 250 farmers groups growing and selling to the union. But Obote says the number of farmers actively growing cotton drastically reduced over the last two years when the farm gate price of cotton sharply dropped from 3,500 shillings to 1,100 shillings a kilogramme.
 
Onenarach John , the Manager of Rwenzori Cotton Ginners Company Limited that buys cotton in Lamwo, Kitgum, Agago and Pader says other factors such as weather, late planting, poor field management and burden of buying seeds, pesticides and fertilizers have also contributed to reduced cotton production in the region.
 
Onenarach blames farmers for selling their cotton to middlemen that offer very low prices of 1,100 compared to 1250 shillings offered at the factory.
 
//Cue in:“When you pick…
Cue out:….they are moving.”//
 
Jackson Okot, a Cotton farmer in Labongo Amida Sub County, says the low price of cotton has demoralized him from producing on large scale. He says many farmers burnt off their cotton in 2012 due to the drastic decline in the prices.
 
But Obote says farmers should return to work and add value to their produce before marketing to fetch better prices. Luka Nyeko, the Kitgum district chairperson says if the new machine will usher in better prices for farmers, the district leadership will mobilize farmers to cultivate more acreage of cotton than in previous years to alleviate poverty.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.