It is very disturbing that 26 years down the road, the Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) has not performed to its expectations of developing the cotton sector as mandated by the Cotton Act 1994.
Indeed it is true that it is not only Busoga that has abandoned the growing of cotton as it used to be in the 1970s and 1980s, but the whole of the eastern region of Uganda, especially Teso, which has switched to other crops instead.
The question is, has the CDO done enough to address the bottlenecks that have affected the growing of cotton in this country?
There are issues of concern which have led to the decline in cotton growing in Busoga and other areas in Uganda. What is the government doing about lack of incentives?
Originally, farmers were getting free cotton seeds, field staff technical giudance and assured market, but now they are buying seeds whose performance is poor and paying for the services. This is not acceptable. One of the duties of CDO is to facilitate cotton production, research and extension through the Agriculture ministry.
What does it mean to facilitate cotton production? Cotton production, unfortunately, has not picked up over the last five to 10 years and one wonders when we shall ever reach the target of 600,000 bales and above of cotton per annum produced in this country for us to develop a robust textile industry.
I would like to see a strong cotton farmers association formed in this country to fight for the cotton farmers’ rights and lobby government for better financial and other terms, especially, cotton prices.
What is the relevance of Cotton Ginners and Exporters Association without a strong cotton farmers association in place? It is the farmers who should be engaged in ginning and marketing of their cotton and nobody else.
It is also time that the CDO Act is reviewed to reflect the current developments in the cotton and textile industry across the world.
It is high time we added value to our cotton locally instead of exporting it raw to the outside world, who process it and resale it to us in form of garments which we can now make locally. We have the capacity and trained technical human resource to do this.