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Acholi farmers advised to continue growing cotton

GULU, June 14, 2024 – Cotton growing is still a profitable enterprise that should never be shunned by the farmers despite the emergence of new cash crops in Uganda, according to Bob Albert Ogen, General Manager of West Acholi Cooperative Union.

The advice to the union’s farmers follows diversification to other crops like rice, soybeans, and cashew nuts among others, in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, forcing others to neglect the cotton farming enterprise.

“We ventured into growing soybeans in 2015 and later rice because it was a good business opportunity. Quite a good number of our members grow rice especially in Amuru district while Nwoya and Omoro are growing soybean,” said Ogen.

“Our market research also showed that most families consume rice so why not take advantage of the market and grow it?” said Ogen.

He however said cotton remains their number one crop by virtue of the foundation of the Union.

Ogen explained that, “Cotton still remains our number one crop because it is the crop that the union was founded on in 1960. The big factory you see here is for cotton. We embraced other crops for business reasons because of our strategic location in the heart of Gulu City.”

“Cotton remains a good cash crop because it’s the only crop with guaranteed market. As of March 2024, all cotton had been bought from farmers. People who have grown cotton know that the price can fluctuate but there is always someone waiting to buy it unlike other crops where buyers may not be there sometimes,” said Ogen.

He said the Union sells its cotton to merchants who export it to other countries. As of March 2024, a kilogramme of cotton was selling at Shs 2,000.  This is despite the Cotton Development Organisation [CDO] setting the purchasing price for a kilo of cotton at Shs 2,300 as per the 2023 season.

5.2 million kilogrammes of cotton worth Shs 9.5 billion was purchased from the farmers in West Acholi between November 2023 to February 2024, according to statistics from the Union.

West Acholi Cooperative Union works with 71 primary cooperative societies in Gulu, Omoro, Amuru and Nwoya- the four districts that make up West Acholi.

Meanwhile, Uganda exported US$ 20.1mln of raw cotton in 2022, mainly to Pakistan [US$ 4.15M], Portugal [US$ 3.77mln], Tanzania [US$ 3.55mln], China [$2.79mln], and Kenya [US$ 2.4mln]. The country’s cotton imports are set to reach US$ 17.3mln by 2026, a 2.8 percent yearly increase since 2021, according to Uganda Cotton Industry Outlook 2022 – 2026

The Outlook also shows that the country’s demand for cotton has grown 7.6 percent annually since 1999. Ugandan cotton production is expected to hit US$ 43.8mln by 2026, representing a 1.1 percent yearly increase since 2021.

CDO is mandated to monitor the production, processing, and marketing of cotton in Uganda. However CDO is  to be wiped out and its activities returned to the mother Agriculture ministry as government moves on with the plan to phase out some of its agencies.

Cotton was introduced in Uganda in 1903 by the British colonialists to serve as a cash crop for Ugandan farmers and but also raw material for British factories.

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