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Business News of Saturday, 12 April 2008

Source: GNA

Cotton framers afraid they may not cultivate this year

Garu (U/E), April 12, GNA - Cotton framers in the Upper East Region on Friday expressed concern at the dying cotton industry and appealed to government to support them increase production and market their produce. The farmers said they were afraid they might not be able to cultivate this year because of lack of support from cotton companies.

They said out of the 11 companies that used to support them with credit, only three were able to help them last year but so far none of them had shown promising signs that they would help them this year.

The farmers said this at a forum they organized at Garu to deliberate on their problems. They said while northern Ghana had a larger and more fertile farmland than Burkina Faso and Mali, they continued to lack behind their neighbours because they did not get adequate support to produce and the market was also too poor. The farmers appealed to the government to consider amending the policy that allows for the importation of cotton products so that the home market could get a chance to grow.

Growers Association who led the discussion expressed regret that little was known about the cotton industry and called on policy makers to acquaint themselves with the situation of the industry and see how best they could help it survive.He said many industries in the north that did well in the 1960s and 1970s have died out and the "struggling survivor, cotton, should be given a booster to keep it in good shape."

Mr. Nashiru urged farmers to remain united as a group so they could present a stronger voice to government and policy makers and also be able to help each other.

Mr. Abdul-Rahaman Mohammed, Regional Chairman of the Cotton Growers Association, said cotton cultivation was no longer lucrative as the inputs needed for farming, fertilizer and pesticides are too expensive. "We continue to farm cotton so as to keep up with the tradition and also hope that conditions would improve someday", he said. The forum was sponsored the Business Advocacy Centre (BUSAC).

"Ghanaians continue to import cotton products like T. shirts, wax prints and fancy fabrics from China, thereby killing the Ghanaian cotton market which can stand on its own if given the necessary support", they said.