Malawi’s cotton production for the 2012 season could rise more than threefold as a result of government subsidies this year, according to Amos Chipungu, the managing director of Great Lakes Cotton Co.
The southern African nation is expected to produce 200,000 metric tons of lint in the season to July 2012, compared with 55,000 tons last year, Chipungu told reporters yesterday in Nsanje, 150 kilometers (94 miles) south of Blantyre, the commercial capital.
The amount of land with cotton has doubled from last year to 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres), he said. “The crop is in areas where it has never been grown before, thanks to the subsidy program,” said Chipungu, whose company is one of the country’s biggest cotton buyers.
Malawi provided 1.6 billion Malawian kwacha ($9.7 million) in subsidies for cotton farmers. President Bingu wa Mutharika told parliament in June that the government would promote the crop to counter the worldwide anti-smoking lobby, and wanted cotton to become the country’s main foreign exchange earner. Cotton is Malawi’s fourth-largest cash crop after tobacco, tea and sugar, according to finance ministry reports.
The cotton price at the end of the selling season this year was 190 kwacha per kilogram (2.2 pounds), more than double the government-set price of 75 kwacha per kilogram.