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Nebbi cotton farmers uncertain amidst bad weather, falling prices

Dennis Agenonga Kamagala a cotton farmer in Parombo picking remains of lint from his busy garden to earn additional income from the ginnery.

Nebbi, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT  |  Cotton Farmers in Parombo Sub County Nebbi district are bothered by the uncertainty about weather and prices for their produce this season. 

More than 2,000 cotton growers in the area had poor yields as a result of bad weather characterised by excessive rainfall. And, as a result of restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 lockdown, many farmers were blocked from residing uphill in Parombo, putting all cultivation and communal energies in the lower belt. 

Many of those who struggled to cultivate cotton got as little as 300 kilograms because of the too much rainfall. The rest of the plants were soaked in water and remained of no use to the farmers whose earnings dwindled drastically. During the earlier seasons, the cotton ginnery at Parombo was buying a kilogram of cotton seed a cost ranging between 1,500 and 1,800 Shillings. 

Dennis Agenonga Kamagala, a farmer who has grown cotton in Parombo for the last ten years says he is still worried about bad weather and unfavourable price fluctuation for cotton this year.   

Meanwhile Andy Othuba, the Farmers National Forum Representative for Nebbi district and a longtime cotton producer in Parombo says most farmers continue to suffer low prices from cotton sales as they are restricted from selling their cotton at better prices to competing buyers from Eastern Uganda.     

Yafesi Rumayisa, the General Manager of Rwenzori Cotton Ginnery, a company that buys cottonseed and gin, says that because cotton production last year was a loss to all, they have prepared to support the farmers with seed distribution early enough so that they can plant in time. Parombo cotton ginnery last season purchased only 2,900 bales of cotton down from 8,000 bales it bought the previous years when production and harvest were at the best. 

According to Rumanyisa, the low prices for cotton at the ginnery last season were a result of the cotton buyers not being able to purchase the cotton due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he, however, remains optimistic that this season may usher better prices to the cotton farmers.  

Due to the low price for cotton over the years and the unpredictability of weather for it, many farmers in Parombo are contemplating on taking on upland rice that some farmers say did very well last year.

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