Dar es Salaam — In efforts to push increased production in the cotton sub-sector, the government has injected Sh7 billion for distribution of insecticides and revive the ginneries.
Nearly 14 million Tanzanians depend on the sub- in 42 districts of 13 regions.
The minister of Agriculture, Mr Japhet Hasunga, said this week that the government was targeting to attract more investors in the production and processing areas. With regard to cotton production, he said in 2018/19 production is targeted to double to 440,000 tonnes from 220,000 tonnes last season, in the wake of distribution of quality cotton seeds.
The minister said such cotton production level can still not satisfy demand for ginneries and textile factories in the country. The installed ginneries capacities estimated at 1.2 million tonnes of cotton per year.
"Our long term target is to attain 600,000 tonnes during next financial year and one million tonnes by 2023," he said.
The goal is to raise the efficiency of the sector, including raising quality of cotton to international standards; doubling production, improving domestic cotton processing and to make Tanzania the leading cotton producer in Africa.
He noted that the Ministry of Industry and Trade has announced a programme for improving a textile sub-sector by mobilising small-scale business operators to engage in tailoring and cotton spinning.
Former Industry and Trade minister Charles Mwijage last year said the government had initiated a programme for importing skills on tailoring and cotton spinning.
Apart from that, the University of Dar es Salaam's College of Engineering and Technology now offers a degree course in textile technology. Under the support of Gatsby Africa, the college produced 44 graduates in textile technology during 2016/17 academic year, against 13 graduates in the preceding year. The UDSM College has also set a target of enabling the country to attain enough skilled human resources in the textile sub-sector.
Regarding the set priorities, minister Hasunga listed three of them, including increase in cotton seeds distribution, improving supply of pesticides and improvement of agricultural inputs supply and marketing.
All these, he said, will be under what he termed as 'Cotton to Clothing Strategy".
On cotton seeds supply, he said the earlier target was to attain a supply of 20,000 tonnes in the first instance, but later on it was realised that actual demand was 27,000 tonnes countrywide. "We've already distributed 27,000 tonnes of seeds throughout the country," says Mr Hasunga.
Role of stakeholders
Speaking during the recent launch of the strategy at Mwanasimba Village in Igunga District, Tanzania Cotton Board's (TCB) director general Marco Mtunga said in 2017/18 financial year at least 25,000 tonnes of seeds, were earmarked for distribution. The distributed seeds included 11,548 tonnes of new cotton seeds known as UKM08 and 13,452 hybrid seeds known as UK91. The TCB director general said that such amount of seeds had satisfied the national demand for high quality cotton seeds during that period.
He clarified that until November last year 11,056 tonnes of seeds, comprising 70 per cent of total demands, were distributed throughout the country.
According to him, the seed distribution kicked off last September and ended in November.
Clarifying on injection of Sh2.7 billion for financing 50 tractors, the acting managing director of Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (Tadb), Mr Japhet Justine, said; "that was a starting point as such public financial institution is targeting to inject more loanable funds to finance cotton farming, production, distribution and processing".
The Tadb boss says they are coping with the national vision of industrialisation come 2025 coupled with on-going Second Agricultural Sector Development Strategy.
Towards cotton industrialisation
During 1970s the country had the capacity to produce enough cotton for satisfying demand of its textiles manufacturers. But in 1980s things began to decline, according latest report of the government of 2004.
Until 2002 only 23 textiles mills were operating in the country, according to the report.
Under the new strategy the government intends to institute value chain development in the cotton sub-sector to improve farm productive and attract more investors.
The cotton value chain development includes activities of ginneries, spinning; weaving; knitting, processing and garments.
In a bid to ensure that the sub-sector grows, the strategy has already been laid down to enable local usage of locally produced textile products against imported ones.
The government has also continued to encourage public institutions to spend more on purchasing locally produced textile.
The strategy is also mobilising pupils, students and government workers to buy local processed T-shirts and clothes.
It is estimated that there are 15 million students and pupils and 25,000 workers in various public institutions ban form reliable market for cotton and textile.
One T-shirt can consume 300 grams of cotton, while a skirt can consume 600 grams of cotton, according to the study by the ministry of trade and industries.
It is estimated that at least 27,000 tonnes of cotton are needed for processing all uniforms of students and pupils countrywide.
Research and human resources
The chief executive officer of Tanzania Industrial Research Organisation (TirDO), Prof Mkumbukwa Mtambo, says that although they are yet to breakthrough in that area, they are implementing a sound plan to improve textile research development.
He said that TirDO knows that cotton value chain has huge potential for creating millions of jobs in the country.
Former CEOrt Roundtable chairman Alli Mufuruki says that with strong involvement of private sector the cotton sub-sector can be the greatest creator of jobs with strong value chain.
Already, there is strong initiative to run sound textile in the country particularly in Arusha under A to Z industries, according to him.
The main challenge facing the textile sector according to the ministry of Industry and Trade is how to secure strategic investors to revive the ailing ginneries, especially those based in Simiyu, Shinyanga, Mwanza and other regions that cultivate cotton.
Another challenge is how to raise farmers' productivity through improved farming practices and application of better farming tools.