The period under review, from 1st July 2012 ending up on 30th June 2013, marked a turning point in the history of the cotton sub sector as digital weighing scales were introduced in the cotton marketing system. The farmers who are one of the primary stakeholders in the industry received with mixed feelings the scales without losing their belief that, this might be the start to the end of the exploitation through scales in the cotton buying posts. The Weights and Measures Agent, concurs with this observation as they reported few instances of digital scales tempering compared to steelyard scales. In the marketing season under review, a total of 37 cotton companies were licenced to buy the crop, and ginning were approved and undertaken by 43 ginneries.
As at the end of the marketing season 352,161 tons of seed cotton were purchased, 350,277 and 1,884 tons for the Western and Eastern Cotton Growing Areas, respectively. The politically charged resistance on cotton price of TZS 660 caused a chain of problems as it delayed cotton procurements, especially in Simiyu region. When it was apparent that prices will not improve, the farmers released their crop. The quick buying and ginning which ensued prompted accumulation of bales at the Dar essalaam port, which was exacerbated by its inefficiency in load clearance. The accumulation of bales at the port caused reluctance on part of Banks to disburse funds to cotton buyers, leading to build-up of un-sold seed cotton stock from farmers. A
stakeholders’ meeting hurriedly called in Maswa deliberated the Board to deal with the problem within two weeks.
The Board continued with its effort to educate these unrealistic politicians and other stakeholders on price mechanism that cotton being an export crop with Tanzania being a price taker, due to its insignificant cotton share in international markets we don’t have that muscle to influence the price. This price scenario was nevertheless; a springboard to kick starts the idea on the inception of Cotton Price Stabilisation Fund by the Board which was taken by the Ministry of Agriculture for all other cash crops. The Ministry is currently liaising with its stakeholders on its modus operand, how to run it and how each will contribute to the Fund.
Another problem was side-selling, caused by some companies to buy cotton in the areas where they had not invested, as per Contract Farming requirements. This triggered poor inputs loan recoveries from the farmers. This as well, might be part of wide syndicate to sabotage the already rolled out Contract Farming after winding up its pilot stage. Albeit, its good intension to farmers, it was absurd that TACOGA the association of cotton growers which is there to advance the interests of farmers were in fore front to tarnish and oppose the Contract Farming efforts.
It was of late learned that free rider Ginners who don’t want to invest in the Contract Farming model were behind the move. The Board in cooperation with Tanzania Gatsby Trust (TGT) and some progressive Ginners continued to implement the Contract Farming model by trying to solve most of the impending challenges. Preparations for a next farming season were underway and in order to increase the farming efficiency in the coming season the following were undertaken;
• Review of the contracts between ginners and farmers’ FBGs
• Demarcating the Western Cotton Growing areas in 12 zones for ginners’ selections
• Contribution of 30 shillings per kilo towards the Cotton Development Trust Fund (CDTF). This caters only for just a few functions of the Fund.
The Board and other stakeholders vowed to work on recovery of the promised subsidy of 5.9 billion from the Government as well as the 2.2 billion inputs subsidy of last season’s for the Fund’s strong footing.
• FBG’s lead farmers from various Districts in the WCGAs have undertaken training on dry season cultivation, and 3,000 rippers had been distributed.
• Sensitization on cotton farming in ECGAs was also introduced.
Although the waters are rough we will continue towing the ship until we reach the shores where we are sure the toiling farmers of this land will be safe and assure the fair contribution of the cotton sector in the prosperity of the country’s economy is attained.
Finally I wish to express TCB’s sincere gratitude to all our partners in the cotton industry for their tireless efforts in improving the welfare of cotton growers.
Marco C. Mtunga