The value of Tanzania's cotton exports rose 55 per cent last year. The increase was propelled by an increase in both export volume and unit price. Farmers are opting for contract farming. While early season drought impacted the actual area germinated and established, it is clear if farmers are assured of support, they want to grow cotton.
In contrast, non-contract farming areas continued to decline in areas planted -- in some cases by as much as over 60 per cent. Through contract farming, cotton buyers agree to provide inputs, finance and advice on credit to primary producers of the product in return for having exclusive rights to purchase the crop at harvest time.
Contract farming areas have already doubled the levels of pesticide distribution that were recorded for the whole of the 2015-16 season. This is largely because ginners are procuring their own pesticides without relying on the limited stocks available from the Cotton Development Trust Fund. In non-contract farming areas the reverse is the case and farmers are struggling to obtain the pesticide that they require.
Cotton yields are set to increase further this year. The area under cotton has increased from 66 per cent to 77 per cent depending on the region.