Government has been asked to financially facilitate cotton investors who go out of their way to add value if this industry is to be competitive at the international market.
Experts say Uganda, which used to be one of the leading countries in East Africa in producing cotton clothes, is now trailing.
Uganda Manufacturers Association’s executive director Kigozi Ssebagala made this call during his tour of Shree Gopingathji – the company which adds value to cotton to produce surgical cotton, pillow cases and pads. The company also has plans to venture into baby pampers by the end of this year.
Mr Ssebagala said: “Government through the agricultural credit should facilitate investors who add value to cotton.”Explaining the ordeal they go through, Mr Bharat Bhai, the managing director of Shree Gopingathji, said: “There is quality cotton from Ugandan farmers but the machinery available doesn’t have the capacity to process the cotton we get from farmers.”
Mr Bharat said they are currently producing below average because that is what the machine can handle but plan to expand after acquiring a machine with more capacity.
He said they are importing a machine with more capacity to process cotton in a month to reduce on the waste incurred whenever cotton is not processed in time.
“We now produce 300,000 cartons of cotton a month . But by June, after we have acquired our machine, we shall be in position to double that in a month. This means more export earning to the country,” he added.
He said the machinery will encourage farmers in Katakwi, Busia, Tororo, Soroti, and Lira, among other districts to increase production and earn more money.
“Farmers who lack seeds or money to plough the gardens will be offered some money depending on the size of land and write agreements with LCs, such that when the cotton is ready, we take the cotton as a payment so a farmer doesn’t have to pay us cash but cotton,” Bharati adds.
Meanwhile, government, commercial banks and micro deposit taking institutions, set up a Shs60 billion agriculture credit facility in 2009 to provide medium and long-term loans to projects engaged in agriculture and agro-processing on more favourable terms than they are usually available from commercial banks.
The government contributes Shs30 billion, about 50 per cent while the banks add another Shs30 billion to make Shs60 billion.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor