A new cotton company, Quton Malawi Limited, a sister company to SeedCo Malawi, has vowed to improve Malawiâ€™s cotton sector by ensuring the provision of quality and fast-maturing cotton planting seeds and add value to raw cotton, among others.
The company, which was incorporated in October last year and has its headquarters in Blantyre, has also pledged to engage all stakeholders in the cotton value chain such as cotton growers, input suppliers, the Cotton Development Trust (CDT), cotton ginners and the Ministry of Agriculture, as one way of ensuring high-quality cotton production in Malawi.
Quton Malawi chief executive officer John Lungu said this in an interview last week during a two-day 2012/13 business conference for SeedCo Malawi which brought together transporters, agro-dealers, the media and Ministry of Agriculture officials.
â€œWe are supplying SZ9314, which is a wonder product and is doing well across environments where cotton is grown. There is huge demand for the variety and we will compliment governmentâ€™s efforts to save forex used in importing cotton seed,â€ said Lungu.
The companyâ€™s pledge comes at a time the Malawi Government invested K1.6 billion in cotton production in 2011/12 financial year.
It also coincides with a drop in cotton production this year from an estimated 244 777 metric tonnes to only 100 000 metric tonnes, a situation industry experts have partly blamed on continued use of poor cotton seed.
Lungu said the companyâ€™s vision and mission is to be Africaâ€™s cotton seed house and to provide the best cotton planting seed in Africa, respectively, through breeding, multiplying and distribution of quality planting seed.
â€œQuton in Malawi works with Makoka Research Station under an arrangement where Quton multiplies local varieties. All ginners and all stakeholders in the cotton industry are our partners and customers. Ginners are our partners in seed production,â€ he said.
On challenges, Lungu said previous companies have disappointed cotton farmers, which he said, resulted in more cotton growers having little faith in Quton.
He also bemoaned inadequate trained extension staff to help cotton farmers, inadequate supply of prebasic seed and inadequate resources for cotton production as some critical challenges that affected the industry during the last season.