On average, cotton farmers in Zambia can increase output by 57% with the same level of inputs as long as they improve the level of efficiency.
This was indicated in a report titled “Technical Efficiency: Are Zambian Cotton Farmers Lagging Behind?”, by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) in June 2016.
Additionally, the study highlights several key findings:
- Female-headed households are more efficient than male-headed households when it comes to cotton production.
- Cotton farmers from Eastern and Southern Provinces are relatively more efficient than their counterparts from Central Province.
- Efficiency of cotton farmers is affected by factors such as gender, age of household head (with age from 12 to 65 years), and government support of other crops such as maize.
The report concludes that stakeholders should devise strategies that can encourage and increase male participation in extension meetings (study circles and farmer schools) as that is likely to help them acquire knowledge of cotton production and subsequently improve efficiency in cotton production.
Participation of relatively old farmers should be encouraged as they were found to influence technical efficiency positively.
Furthermore, farmers should be encouraged to rotate cotton with maize in order for cotton plant to benefit from residue fertilizers that might have been applied in maize fields.
Cotton is produced by over 150,000 smallholder households, representing 10% of smallholder farmers in Zambia.
The sector has grown in terms of production from less than 50,000Mt of seed cotton in 1994 to 275,000Mt in 2012, with an average of 110,000Mt for the period 2005 to 2015.
This is mainly due to the increase in number of ginning companies and investments in gins, from 2 to about 11 ginning companies with a total ginning capacity of over 300,000Mt per annum.