Cotton prices deter farmers as they look for possible solutions

By Christopher Gamaina

Cotton farmers have appealed to the government to involve them in the setting up of the market price of one of the country’s dependable cash crops.

They said in separate interviews this week that to ensure cotton farmers reap benefits of the crop government must revert to the system of involving their participation in meetings to discuss the market price of the crop during the buying season.

Secondly, the farmers pleaded to government to revive the defunct textile industries and to build new ones, and thirdly, to reduce taxes charged to cotton businesspeople.

“We farmers must be involved in meetings of setting up cotton prices; our government should revive the non-operational industries and build new ones so that the cotton we produce should be sold locally. This will result in increased prices. The government, too, should reduce the many taxes charged to cotton buyers,” said Mageta Magabe, the best cotton farmer at Gusuhi village in Serengeti district, Mara region.

“It’s unfortunate that farmers are disregarded when it comes to setting up the market price of cotton. It’s discouraging that you toil on the farm all the season long afterwards somebody else determines the price of your crop,” said another farmer who remained anonymous.

The chairman of the Mara Regional Network of Farmers in Tanzania (MVIWATA), Madaraka Mashauri, said Tanzania cannot continue to import clothes abroad when it has the capacity of producing cotton and building its own textile industries.

”We must have our home-based productive industries. This is not a nation that could continue to entertain the import of second-hand clothes. We have trained experts; if there is anything missing, we will have to learn. We cannot go on importing clothes 100 percent,’’ he said.

“It’s a shame to continue importing clothes from abroad. Government must ensure that our local textile industries are revived,” Mashauri said.

The interviewed farmers were critical of local politicians who seem to control the cotton business to enhance their political standing at the same time denying the toiling masses not to reap what they sow in tears.

They warned that if the cotton price issue is not resolved, there is a likelihood of witnessing the decline of the industry, which for years has also been the major foreign exchange earner.

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