The adoption of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) cotton in Zambia can increase farmers’ net benefits with USD60 per hectare on average.
This was indicated in a recent report, highlighting the potential of GMO cotton production in Zambia, by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI).
The report notes that the net benefits will be higher for farmers cultivating smaller pieces of land than farmers cultivating larger pieces of land.
“The farmers cultivating less than 0.5 hectares would realize the highest net benefits of USD81 per hectare.”
This is due to higher productivity levels achieved by those cultivating smaller fields than those cultivating larger fields.
However, IAPRI points out that the average additional benefit of USD60 per ha might be unattractive to Zambian farmers.
In order to significantly increase the additional benefits of GMO cotton adoption in Zambia, farmers need to increase their cotton productivity levels from the current 850 kg/ha to 1,660 kg/ha.
“Fortunately, these […] increases are achievable in Zambia as a small proportion of farmers are already achieving them,” the report indicates.
Accordingly, IAPRI recommends stakeholders to work on improving the productivity of seed cotton before adopting the GMO technology to maximize the potential benefits.
In another study, IAPRI indicates that cotton farmers in Zambia can increase output by 57% with the same level of inputs as long as they improve the level of efficiency.
Consequently, improving the productivity and profitability of cotton will offer significant potential livelihood benefits for smallholder households, IAPRI notes.
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.