Mr. Vilakati (R) at ginnery/Swazi Observer
The earnings from sales of cotton are likely to increase in the current season to E16 million owing to significant increase in production, according to Minister of Agriculture Moses Vilakati.
The production of cotton in Swaziland has increased significantly from 394 tons to 2,485 tons between 2008 and 2013, Minister Vilakati said during the launch of cotton ginning for the 2014 season at Big Bend in eastern part of the country, Swazi Observer reported.
The Minister said that income from cotton had also increased from E1.6 million to E13 million in 2013.
He said the Government continues to play a major role in supporting cotton growers. These include establishment of a ‘revolving fund’ to help farmers purchase inputs on credits, and spending E8.5 million to retain the cotton ginnery.
Moreover, a Cotton Board was set up to assist farmers with technical expertise in the area of cotton production.
Mr. Vilakati said the Swaziland Cotton Ginnery is important for receiving cotton from areas producing cotton, and it offers an opportunity for cotton value addition, leading to job creation at both the ginnery and at ginned cotton users like spinners and cottonseed oil producers.
He said that currently the ginnery is only operating at 20 percent of its capacity and urged farmers, mainly in the Lowveld and dry Middleveld regions, to utilize every available resource to maximize cotton production.
Speaking about employment in the cotton sector, the Minister said that at present, about 18,000 Swazis depend on cotton farming for their livelihood. Besides, the ginnery at Big Bend employs 87 persons, including permanent and seasonal employees. In addition, the sector also supports several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which transport cotton from field to the ginnery.
In Swaziland, cotton cultivation begins in October each year.