COTTON growers and buyers in the lake zone due to drought stand to suffer substantial losses this year. Besides the bad weather, the collapse of contract farming has had a negative impact on cotton production.
Head of Agriculture Department in Bunda District Council Serapion Rujuguru said that there is a cotton scramble here as cotton buyers jostle for the little produce available. The district's cotton production peaked in the 2008/09 season with 14,311 metric tonnes thanks to contract farming, but production has since been dropping, with this year's estimates put at 5,000 tonnes mainly due to unfavourable weather and failing contract farming.
During the good days of contract farming system, farmers used to get agricultural inputs on credit but now they have to buy on cash. Few of the rural people can afford to maintain an acre of cotton on cash basis. Even farmers who have been adhering to good farming practices have this season bowed to unfriendly weather.
Although almost all cotton ginners are in business crisis due to acute shortage of seed cotton, cotton buyers who snubbed the contract farming system are the hardest hit.
According to Mugole Lusungura, a cotton grower in Bunda's Guta Ward, this has been his worst year since he started growing cotton. He normally harvests averagely 1,270 kilogrammes of seed cotton per acre but he has managed only 900 kilogrammes from his three acres this season.
However, he blamed the problem on the collapse of contract farming, stating that although drought has had its toll on the production; unreliable access to farming inputs has exacerbated the problem.
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