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‘Enforce policy on investment in cotton industry’

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The Head of Cotton Production of Armajaro Cotton Ghana Limited, Mr Ismail Lansah, has urged the government to rigidly enforce its policy on strategic investment in the cotton industry as a way of helping to revamp it.

He stated that there were “intruders” in the cotton industry who were, sabotaging the government’s efforts at revamping the industry and eventually scaring away strategic investors.

He further said investors such as Olam Ghana Limited, Armajaro Cotton Ghana Limited and Wienco Ghana Limited were the key strategic investors tasked to help revamp the industry by cultivating not less than 60,000 hectares of cotton this year.

Mr Lansah was speaking at a day’s workshop on network building for cotton farmers in Tamale.

Forty farmers from the three northern regions attended the workshop.

They discussed topics such as organising cotton farmers for higher productivity in Ghana – Challenges and prospects, group formation and dynamics, perspectives for policy advocacy and networking among cotton farmers, as well as effective     engagement with duty bearers.

The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress organised the workshop in collaboration with Action Aid Ghana.

Mr Lansah stated that the intruders were a group of companies which provided low quality seeds to farmers and purchased cotton from farmers they had riot supported with inputs.

According to him, strategic investors had invested nearly $2 million in the industry, adding that Armajaro, which was one of the investors, had employed 98 technical staff with 18,200 farming units.

He said the attitude of farmers towards the cultivation of cotton was a contributory factor to the decline in cotton production.

“Eighty per cent of cotton farmers treat the cultivation of the crop as a part time job; I therefore, urge farmers to go into commercial production of cotton by becoming independent,” he stated.

The Programme Officer of the GAWU, Mr Karim Saagbul, stated that the cotton sector in Ghana was currently experiencing unprecedented crisis in its history.

According to him, cotton production fell from almost 40,000 tonnes in 1990 to 3,000 tonnes in 2010.

Mr Saagbul attributed the drastic fall in production to several factors, including uncontrolled liberalisation of the cotton sector, poor organisation of cotton farmers, low productivity (low yields and high production costs relative to returns) and low seed cotton purchase price.

Mr Saagbul said the outcome of the workshop was expected to contribute to strengthen the organisations of cotton farmers for people-centred advocacy and campaigns for the right to food.

“The workshop will also enhance the capacity of farmers to engage various duty bearers to influence policy,” he stated.

Source: Daily Graphic

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