Busia cotton farmers decry low buying price
Cotton farmers in Busia County are pushing for improved buying price to match the fibre crop’s high cost of production.
Jairosi-Malakisi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society Chairman Willy Opili said the market price of cotton has remained static for years despite the soaring cost of acquiring pesticides and seeds.
Opili disclosed that many farmers are going through difficult times due to the high production cost and if things don’t change most of them might shift to other crops.
“Low market price for cotton is the major reason many farmers abandoned its production several years ago. Out of the 3,700 farmers under my leadership, only 1,020 planted the crop this year. We are therefore appealing to cotton buyers to increase the price to at least Ksh.60 per kilogram,” he said.
“The cost of producing cotton is currently high and it may increase again next year. Pesticide prices have been increasing every year. For instance a 100ml tin of Duduthrin, a popular pesticide currently retails at Sh160, up from Sh100 last year,” Opili explained.
He said they intend to engage the buying firms so that they agree on the price in the market before things worsen.
Jairosi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society chairman Aggrey Emojong also weighed in on the dwindling number of cotton farmers due to low market value revealing that out of the over 2,000 registered farmers under his leadership, only 15 farmers who had surplus seeds from the 2020 season planted the crop in June and July.
He noted that the sector will definitely experience a drop in the harvest this year compared to last year, due to the drop in the number of farmers and delayed planting.
Emojong said: “Most farmers stayed away from planting this year because they could not afford to buy high-yielding hybrid seeds. A two-kilogram packet of the recommended hybrid Mahyco C567 retails at Sh2, 200.This is too high for many growers.”
“The number of farmers who planted the crop in 2020 was high because the seeds were distributed for free,” he said.
”f they want the farmers to continue planting cotton with the enthusiasm they had in 2020 they should reduce the cost of the seeds to approximately Sh500 for one kilogram packet.
Alternatively, they can distribute the seeds on loan and allow the farmers to service the loan after harvesting and selling their cotton,” he said.
Emojong’s sentiment follows last year’s free distribution of the high-yielding Mahyco C567 breed in cotton growing areas by the government through the Agriculture and Food Authority.
Jairosi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society Manager Edward Oteba said it is only improved market prices that will prevent farmers from abandoning cotton production for other crops.
“We don’t understand why the prices are fluctuating every now and then. We want the prices to be increased. In 2020 market buyers lowered the price of a kilogram of cotton to Sh48 despite the farmers having been assured that the price will be Sh52 per kilogram. This demoralized many farmers this year,” he said.