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Business News of Thursday, 23 August 2007

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Cotton industry struggling for survival

The cotton production in the country has not progressed according to expectations in the last 40 years. Production has always been rather unpredictable in the country.

Even though excellent conditions are available for growth of cotton the production has never reached 40000 tonnes. Ghana cotton production amounts for less than 1% of the West and Central African production.

Ghana lies far behind all cotton producing countries, even much smaller countries like Togo or countries where the resources are far less favourable. The low price of cotton has deterred many farmers from growing cotton. The producer price of 3,000 old Ghana cedis per kilo is same for a number of years. The cost of cotton cultivation is the main thing that prevents them from farming cotton.

The General Manager of Ghana Cotton Company, North Central Division, Mr. Joseph Banafoe said that cotton is the only crop, the inputs of which are supplied on credit so farmers do not need capital before entering into cotton farming. Cotton is also a crop that has the potential to re-germinate in the soil. He said the low price of lint cotton in the world market is the major problem that the cotton company is facing now.

This year also the production is falling below tarrgets due to losses in yield and area. The government has to invest in research to develop high yielding seed. It is the only way the industry can survive because the country can not change the world market price.

The cotton industry still depends on third or fourth grade seeds. These seeds are always unreliable and the conditions under which they are transported also contribute to the very low viability and vigour of the crop.