Bloomberg News

Tanzania Expects Bumper Cotton Crop on Contract Farming, Weather

June 06, 2012

Cotton production in Tanzania, East Africa’s biggest producer, may climb in 2012-13 for a second successive season after the country introduced contract farming and on improved weather, the Tanzania Cotton Board said.

Lint cotton output for marketing in the 12 months through June may rise to more than 300,000 metric tons from 225,000 tons this year, Director-General Marco Mtunga said. Production in 2011-12 is estimated to be 38 percent more than last season’s crop of 163,000 tons, he said.

“We expect a big crop of 300,000 tons or even more than that,” Mtunga said by phone yesterday from Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital. “We’ve got favorable weather conditions and we’ve even started implementing contract farming.”

Tanzania exports at least 70 percent of its annual crop mainly to the U.K., Switzerland, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, China and Kenya, according to the board. The nation plans to boost domestic consumption of the crop to 51 percent in three years, according to its website.

The forecast for next season is above the 271,000-ton target the board set two years ago for 2014-15. With the advent of contract farming, growers will agree with buyers to supply certain quantities of specific qualities of the crop, usually at predetermined prices, according to the board. That, together with improving productivity and increasing credit to farmers, is expected to boost output, according to the board.

Harvesting of next season’s crop will start later this month, with marketing expected to start in July, Mtunga said.

GMO Trials

The board’s plans to start confined trials of genetically modified cotton are still on hold because “regulations are not ready yet,” Mtunga said, without providing more details.

Tanzania, which produces the medium-fiber variety of cotton, plants the crop in its western region in November to January and then reaps it from June through August, while the eastern region plants in January to March and harvests from August to October, according to the board. The country’s cotton marketing season runs from July 1 through June, it says.

As many as 500,000 Tanzanian farmers cultivate about 485,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) of cotton in the country’s northern, coastal and western regions, the board said.

Tanzania vies with Benin to be Africa’s sixth-biggest cotton producer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mali is the continent’s largest grower.

Cotton for December delivery climbed 3 percent to 67.29 cents a pound at 10:55 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at fojambo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net


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