Cotton farmers demand timely supply of inputs

Mwanza-based Quton Tanzania Limited has so far received orders for about 5,000 tonnes of the newly certified cotton seed, UKM08 to be supplied to western growing zone, as farmers demand all inputs to be made available at the right time.
The placed orders constitute over 80 per cent of the country’s national annual demand for 6,000 tonnes of seeds.

Quton Tanzania Limited’s Commercial Manager, Mr Benedict Maselle, told the Daily News in Mwanza recently that the seed company, using its Kasoli based plant with 15,000 tonnes capacity, annually, was determined to meet the country’s demand for cotton seeds.

He challenged cotton growers to place orders timely to avoid cases of late supply of seeds during the planting season. “This is business…we cannot produce seeds for a mere sake of it, we have to get orders,” Mr Maselle said, dismissing as baseless claims by some peasants that cotton seeds arrived late in the last farming season.

Some interviewed peasants in Bunda, Chato and Bariadi districts complained over delayed farm inputs, especially cotton seeds, as among the challenges they experienced in last year’s farming season.

A cotton grower in Chato, Ms Teresia Magoti, appreciated the new seed variety as superior, but decried its late arrival. “I like (the new) seeds, because they are cost effective and easy to plant but they have to arrive early,” she said.

Cotton Buyers and Ginners Association, UMWAPA, has according to Mr Maselle ordered 2,150 tonnes for its members under the contract farming system in Mwanza, Geita and Shinyanga regions.

Ukiriguru Agricultural Research Institute developed the new superior UKM08 variety, which it describes as highly resistant to drought and pests, to replace the aged UK91, which has been in use for over two decades. Quton is responsible for multiplication of the seed.

According to Dr Evelyne Lukonge, researcher and breeder with the institute, the seed variety whose germination assurance is estimated at 95 per cent, some 25 per cent above the minimum requirement of 70 per cent, has the potential of improving the quality of the country’s cotton and its prices in the world market.

Mr Maselle however declined comment on the seed failure to germinate some two years back, saying the issue had been taken over by the government. He however advised farmers to observe the expert practices on how best to sow the seeds.