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Business News of Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Source: Adu Koranteng

GAWU enhance Commitment to cotton Production

By Adu Koranteng

The General Agricultural workers Union (GAWU), as part of efforts to promote cotton production in Ghana has intensified its advocacy programme in collaboration with Actionaid Ghana. This is in light of the fact that Ghana’s cotton production over the last decade has been dwindling. It has been in the range of 3,000 and 5,000 tonnes over the last decade Ghana’s cotton production had a couple of good years in the early and late 1990’s, with a record harvest of 45,000 tones of seed cotton, but for the last 10 years production appears to be stable around 3,000 tonnes per year. Comparing the production in Ghana to that of its neighbors reveals that the Ghanaian production is very small.

The Programme Officer of GAWU, Mr. Karim Saagbul, in an interview with the New Crusading Guide recently stated that the cotton sector in Ghana was currently experiencing unprecedented crisis in its history. According to him, cotton production fell from almost 40,000 tonnes in 1990 to 3,000 tonnes in 2010.

Mr. Saagbul attributed the drastic fall in production to several factors, including uncontrolled liberalization of the cotton sector, poor organization of cotton farmers, low productivity (low yields and high production costs relative to returns) and low seed cotton purchase price. Research has proven that Ghanaian cotton farmers find it very challenging to access formal credit and acquire the necessary inputs to increase production. In view of this, the WorldBank has advanced a facility to cotton farmers to stimulate the increase of cotton production.

It is based on these factors that GAWU has partnered Actionaid Ghana to promote cotton production in Ghana through advocacy. He has therefore called on the Government to help provide tractor services to the farmers or liaise with the cotton companies to address the problem in order not to decrease the expected production targets. The advocacy programme has helped to shift the attention of government towards improving facilities towards growing the cotton sector.

Mr. Saagbul said although the government procured some tractors for farmers they were inadequate and could be found mainly at agricultural mechanization centres where only few people benefited from their services. He said under the new policy of the government to revamp cotton production, the North had been re-zoned into three and being taken care of by three companies- Armajaro, Wienco and Olam. He indicated that cotton cultivation was time-bound, emphasizing that June was usually the month of cultivation of cotton and any time short of that could negatively affect the crop yield. He said the problem of ploughing was prevalent in the three regions. He appealed to the government and the new cotton companies not to failed cotton farmers in the country since cotton was a cash crop that could reduce poverty in the area.