Cotton is considered one of the most strategic commodities in Uganda for increasing household income, creation of employment, industrialization and poverty alleviation. In 1995 the Swedish International Development Agency began promoting organic methods of growing cotton in Uganda. The area under organic management expanded rapidly. Farmers were attracted to organic cotton because the promoters promised a premium price. Then, the reality of trying to grow cotton without chemical pesticides sunk in, shown below in remarks from a presentation by Jolly Sabune, Managing Director of the Cotton Development Organization.
- During 2007/8, the en-mass introduction of organic caused over 68% drop in yields in the organic areas.
- National cotton production also dropped by 50% from 134,000 bales in 2006/7 to 66,500 bales in 2007/8.
- Organic promoters were sabotaging government efforts of increasing cotton yields by de-campaigning use of the effective conventional pesticides.
- Following the sharp decline in production due to en-mass introduction of organic cotton, the government of Uganda decided that organic cotton promoted in the manner seen during 2007/8 was entrenching poverty rather than alleviating it and would therefore not be accepted.
- Anyone who wants to support small-scale farmers in cotton must therefore promote conventional cotton production.
Author: Jolly Sabune
Affiliation: Cotton Development Organization
Title: Organic Cotton Production: Uganda’s Experience. Available at: http://www.icac.org/meetings/plenary/70_buenos_aires/documents/os3/os3_sabune.pdf