HIGH COST OF PRODUCTION

Cotton farmers in Busia push for higher buying price to Sh60 per kilo

Opili says growers are going through difficult times because of the increased cost of insecticides and seeds.

In Summary
  • They say a 100ml tin of Duduthrin, a popular pesticide currently retails at Sh160, up from Sh100 last year.
  • A rise in the market price for the crop will motivate more farmers to embrace production, the farmers said.
Jairosi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society chairman Aggrey Emojong and manager Edward Oteba in September.
CONCERNED: Jairosi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society chairman Aggrey Emojong and manager Edward Oteba in September.
Image: EMOJONG OSERE

Cotton farmers in Busia want factories to increase the buying price of the fibre crop to at least Sh60 per kilo.

They say the cost of producing cotton has risen due to the increased price of insecticides and seeds.

Jairosi-Malakisi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society chairman Willy Opili told the Star on Monday that many farmers are complaining of static cotton prices in the market, yet the cost of production has been rising every year.

“Our farmers are going through difficult times,” he said on the phone.

“We are appealing to cotton buyers to increase the price to at least Sh60 per kilo. The cost of producing cotton is currently high, and it may increase again next year. The price of pesticides has been increasing every year."

He said low buying price is among the reasons many growers have abandoned cotton farming.

Out of the 3,700 farmers under his leadership, only 1,020 have planted the crop this year.

Opili said a 100ml tin of Duduthrin, a popular pesticide, currently retails at Sh160, up from Sh100 last year.

“With rising cost of production, many farmers may drop out,” Opili said.

“We will engage the buying firms so that we can agree on the price in the market.”

Edward Oteba, the Jairosi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society manager, said in 2020, buyers lowered the price of a kilo of the crop to Sh48 despite farmers having been assured that the price would be Sh52 per kilo.

“We don’t understand why the prices are fluctuating. We need the prices increased,” Oteba said.

Farmers in early September had warned of a likely drop in the 2021 harvest due to the high cost of production.

Jairosi Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society chairman Aggrey Emojong told the Star that out of the over 2,000 registered farmers under his leadership, only 15 had planted the crop in June and July. The crop is usually planted in the June-July period.

The 15 are those who had surplus seeds from the 2020 season.

Emojong said going by the number of farmers planting cotton in 2021 coupled with late planting, the sector may experience a drop in this year’s harvest.

Most farmers, he said, have stayed away from planting because they cannot afford to buy high-yielding hybrid seeds.

A two-kilo packet of the recommended hybrid Mahyco C567 retails at Sh2,200, a price he said is too high for many growers.

He said the number of growers who planted the crop in 2020 was high because the seeds were distributed for free.

“If they want the farmers to continue planting cotton with the enthusiasm they had in 2020 when the hybrid seed came, they should reduce the cost of seeds to approximately Sh500 for one kilo packet,” Emojong said.

He said the alternative is to distribute the seeds on loan. Emojong said farmers should be allowed to service the loan after harvesting and selling their cotton at the end of the season.

Edited by A.N