Cotton production is expected to rise by nearly four times this season, thanks to an increase in the number of regions preferring cultivation of the crop due to prospects of better prices.
The Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) director general, Mr Marco Mtunga said at the weekend that the country expects to harvest 600 million kilogrammes (about 600,000 metric tonnes) compared to 150,000 metric tonnes produced last years. The expected bumper harvest, according to Mr Mtunga, is a result of an increase in the number of people who are engaging in the cultivation of cotton.
"Besides the 17 traditional regions, cotton is now grown in new regions of Dodoma, Tanga, Katavi, Morogoro, Coast and Kilimanjaro," Mr Mtunga told an audience at Kwimba. Mr Mtunga disclosed that the government has set aside Sh10 billion to fight pests.
Besides, he said, during the season, farmers have enjoyed good extension service and assured them of a stable and orderly market for their crop.
"They only need to preserve their cotton well because the buying season starts in May. The national thrust is to ensure "the white gold" regains its lost glory... .cotton's value chain is attractive, including ginneries, yarn factories, textile mills and oil extracting factories," he said.
Late last year, the TCB chief regulatory officer, Mr Emmanuel Mwangulumba was quoted as saying that ginning companies were raising the amount they pay farmers to an average of Sh1,000 per kilogram, being 25 per cent more than they previously received.
TCB figures show that output in Tanzania - which competes with Zimbabwe as sub-Saharan Africa's biggest producer - peaked in the 2005-06 season at about 370,000 tonnes.
Production stood at about 352,000 tonnes as late as 2012-13, before falling to around 150,000 tonnes during the last season.
At least 500,000 farmers are actively engaged in production of the fiber in Tanzania.