Organic cotton farmers establish association

FARMERS and ginners engaging in the organic cotton sector across the country have decided to come up with their special association.

For the farmers, this will be a useful podium to help them scale up performance and value chain of the vital economic cash crop in the country.

Dubbed ‘ Tanzania Organic Cotton Association (TOCA), the timely established organisation envisions to provide the most reliable platform of choice that nurtures the organic cotton industry by facilitating excellence in agriculture and commerce.

According to statistics, more than 30,000 cotton farmers in Tanzania were internationally organic certified as of 2022.

Speaking on behalf of the organic cotton farmers and ginners from Singida and Simiyu during the founding and inception meeting of the association (TOCA) held recently in the country’s Capital—Dodoma, under the auspicious of GIZ Tanzania and Helvetas, Dr Riyaz Haider said the reason behind establishment of the organisation was to heighten the performance of both, fresh and long-standing organic cotton farmers and ginners.

“Among others, the mission behind the formation of this association is to promote and protect the country’s cotton industry with a unifying voice and actions that serve and engage its diverse members from farm to market place,” he said.

In further details, Dr Haider, who is the director of Biosustain Ltd, noted that the association would be used by members as a meaningful platform to discuss and put up creative ideas to help solve numerous setbacks that troubles growers and ginners.

“It is anticipated that, TOCA will be the chief developer of the organic cotton industry in Tanzania through providing leadership consistent with organic principles and values, organised to create and further market opportunities for the organic cotton business,” he expressed, adding that the association was organised to promote the economic viability of organic cotton and to boost organic agriculture.

For his side, Marco Mtunga, the Director General of the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) observed that Tanzania was the fifth largest producer of organic cotton in the world.

In the season 2021/22, more than 30,000 cotton growers were internationally certified.

“Over the last years, organic cotton farmers in Tanzania have been recording bumper harvest compared to their conventional peers, as they received, on average, a 10-15 per cent premium on top of the farm gate price for seed cotton,” he unveiled.

The DG noted that, through agriculture farmers were less vulnerable to weather extremes and pest attacks and that improved resilience of their crop production system.

He said the use of locally produced botanical pesticides significantly reduces the cost for inputs which is an impressive development, leading to higher productivity of organic cotton production in Tanzania.

“TCB is very keen to stand at forefront in working closely to support TOCA achieving its needed ambitious visions. As opposed to the cotton produced through conventional practices, organic cotton is currently attracting wider and lucrative prices at the world market, thus we have an array of reasons to support the side since Tanzania has in many areas been endowed with all potential to grow cotton through biological farming,” Mr Mtunga stated.

Mr Leonard Mtama, Coordinator for the Climate-Smart Organic Cotton Programme, a robust project being implemented by GIZ Tanzania and Helvetas through funds from Laudes Foundation, said establishment of the association will give the country’s organic cotton industry a fresh impetus.

Through implementation of the Organic Cotton Project (OCP) from 2017, he unveiled that more than 50,000 organic cotton growers have so far benefited accordingly, saying formulation of the association is expected to further capacitate more farmers.

“We’re looking forward to seeing this association play a crucial role to improve professional implementation of our organic cotton farming, and far beyond to attract more farmers to adopt organic cotton production through promoting public awareness and understanding of organic agriculture and the organic cotton industry,” Mr Mtama expounded.

The establishment of the association targets to provide a strong, unified voice and actions on legislative, regulatory, and policy issues that affect the organic cotton industry, but also, to protect the integrity of the organic farming industry, as well as protecting the environment and enhancing community well-being.

As per the Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Demand Insights Report 2020/21, the world-wide demand for organic cotton outweighs the production, and it is forecast that the demand will rise by at least 84 percent between 2020 and 2030, and over 36 global textile brands and retailers have pledged to only source sustainable cotton by 2025.

However, the world’s leading producer of organic cotton, India, has difficulties increasing its production due to co-existence with the Genetic modification (GM) cotton farming technology.

Tanzania, on the contrary, prohibits the use of GMO and traditionally uses less agro chemicals than other countries, the positive development that gives Tanzania a strategic opportunity to position itself as a leading producer of organic cotton in the world.

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