Cotton experts predict that the Acholi sub region’s favorable weather conditions will result in higher cotton lint production this farming season.
Flooding caused by heavy rains last year harmed cotton production in the region, resulting in significant losses for thousands of farmers. According to the Uganda Cotton Ginners and Exporters Association, the region produced only about 40,000 bales of cotton lint.
Cotton production in the region has decreased for the past two years [2019-2020] due to heavy rains, according to Douglas Bhosopo, the seeds inspector at Uganda Cotton Ginners and Exporters Association. He claims that the rains disrupted cotton flowering as well as pesticide spraying in Agago, Lamwo, Gulu, and Kitgum districts.
Despite a period of drought between May and June this year, during the planting season, Bhosopo believes that the drought had a limited impact on cotton crops, and that farmers will have a high yield this time around.
Bhosopo estimates that the region will produce close to 51,000 bales of cotton lint once harvest begins in November. Although the figures are lower than in 2012, 2013, and 2014, he believes they are encouraging because the region is now returning to its cotton-growing glory days.
In the past, the Acholi sub-region alone had roughly 78,000 cotton producers. Bhosopo, on the other hand, claims that the number has since dropped to around 35,000, but insists that the current figures represent farmers who are serious about cotton farming.
He admits that crops like sim sim, particularly in East Acholi where production is high, have displaced cotton cultivation due to the lucrative market and high prices they fetch.
To entice farmers to grow cotton, the Cotton Development Organization, which oversees the production, processing, and marketing of the crop, has set an indicative price of shillings 2,000 for this farming season.
According to Bhosopo, the starting price, which was previously much lower, is expected to encourage farmers to take advantage of the remaining planting season in September to increase cotton production.
After planting cotton on a five-acre plot of land, Tiberio Oyul, a cotton farmer in Orom East sub county, is optimistic about a good harvest this farming season.
Oyul claims that, unlike last year, when he only made 1.1 million Shillings due to bad weather and substandard seeds, this year he expects to treble his revenues.
“Last year’s weather was bad, and the cotton seeds we got from one of the groups that helps farmers in our area didn’t germinate well either. As a farmer, last year was a failure, but this year’s crop season looks promising,” Oyul stated.
Kenneth Nyero Nyokcek, LCIII chairperson of the Namokora town council, believes the weather this year is good and that cotton farming has resumed in his area, unlike in the past. Farmers, on the other hand, are concerned about the constantly fluctuating pricing of cotton, according to him, which is why many have shifted to cultivating food crops, particularly sim sim.
According to the Uganda Cotton Ginners and Exporters Association, some 600 metric tons of cotton seeds have been supplied to farmers in the Acholi sub-region so far this farming season. According to the Uganda Cotton Development Organization, cotton is Uganda’s third-largest export crop after coffee and tea, and it is the primary source of income for approximately 250,000 households.
According to the Uganda MeteorologicaAl uthority’s seasonal rainfall projection provided this month, the current rainy season in the Eastern Northern sections of Uganda, which includes Kitgum, Lamwo, Agago, and Pader districts, is projected to last until September, with a break in October.
Meanwhile, rainfall is projected to persist in the Central Northern regions of the country, including Gulu, Omoro, Nwoya, and Amuru districts, until the end of September, with a little decrease in October. Early to mid-November is projected to mark the end of the rainy season.