By Francis Kagolo
Uganda’s cotton industry has started recovering after production almost doubled last financial year, according to a report.Cotton production increased from 147,000 bales in 2010/2011 to 254,036 last financial year. As a result, cotton fetched $48m in export earnings.
This is contained in the agriculture sector annual performance review report for 2011/2012, which will be launched tomorrow during the sector evaluation two-day workshop at the Commonwealth Resort Hotel, Munyonyo.
Once one of Uganda’s key cash crops, cotton production slumped following a collapse in world prices in the early 1980s.
However, production is stabilising, especially after the restoration of peace in northern Uganda, a traditional cotton-growing region.
Other cotton growing areas include Kasese, eastern and mid-western Uganda.
Officials attributed last year’s increase in production mainly to good prices on the international market, which attracted more farmers.
Cotton prices hit record highs in 2010 when they jumped from sh900 per kg to sh1,600, as the world cotton stocks diminished due to low supply and a robust demand.
“There was not much expansion in cotton-growing areas but more farmers in the cotton regions picked interest in the crop to tap into the good prices,” said Okassai Opolot, the director of crop production in the agriculture ministry.
“The farmers’ response was good. This forced the ministry and the Cotton Development Organisation to supply good quality seeds and agro-chemicals on time.”
Opolot also attributed the improvement to an aggressive campaign to promote cotton production, which involved supplying high-quality seeds and pesticides at affordable prices.
Meanwhile, the report also indicates an improvement in the coffee sector, whose export performance surpassed the target of 2.58 million 60kg bags to 3.035 million bags valued at $444.225m.
Equally promising is tea, whose production rose from 51,000 metric tonnes in 2010 to 59,400 metric tonnes in 2011, with a corresponding increase in value from $84m to $93m.
Other crops that have recorded significant growth in production include cocoa and rice.