Quality Cotton Seeds Running Out Even as Demand Rises

National produciers of cotton – one of Myanmar’s strategic export crops – are facing problems accessing seeds, cotton farmers told The Myanmar Times.

Cotton is cultivated twice a year across two seasons. However, cultivation has become expensive since farmers must now buy seeds from private agriculture companies due to insufficient government supplies.

“The cost to sow the seeds per acre is now about K30,000. When we try to access the seeds from the private [companies], the seeds are not of good quality even [when] they said the seeds are from reputable government farms like Shwe Tung. That could pose problems for future plantation yields. That’s why some of us now prefer [growing] rice rather than cotton,” one cotton farmer said.

He pointed out that the volume and quality of the cotton seeds provided by government cotton seed distributors like Lunn Kyaw — Kyauk Sae township — and Shwe Taung — Wandwin township in Mandalay — have weakened in recent years.

“We need good seeds distributed by the agriculture department. When they were able to distribute good quality cotton seeds sufficiently, the cost to plant the seeds was just K5,000 per acre.”

The shortfall comes as demand for Myanmar cotton from local textile and garment companies is rising fast. As cotton is a national export strategy crop, it is expected that local cotton will be used to produce finished products for the garment and textile industries in Myanmar, said U Aung Soe, director general of Myanmar Trade Promotion Team.

Demand from China is on the rise, too. A total of 1.6 tonnes (US$3.5 million) worth of cotton was exported to China through border trade in 2013-2014, 15.70 tonnes ($3.4 million) in 2014-2015, 2414 tonnes ($5.3 million), 4340 tonnes ($9.5 million) in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and 487.5 tonnes ($1.1 million) in the 2017-2018 fiscal year (until July 21).

Meanwhile, agriculture officer Daw Yin Yin Nwe said that a total of 52,144 viss (83,431kg) of cotton was distributed by government cotton seed distributors for 2016-2017 fiscal year and a total of 75,000 viss (120,000kg) is expected to be distributed in the coming 2017-2018 fiscal years.

Another cotton famer said that besides access to cotton seeds, there is also a shortage of workers willing to do manual work at the cotton plantations. “Cultivation of other crops can work with the machine. But for cotton cultivation, we need workers to do the manual work. Maybe we are not yet familiar with machines.”

Source: The Myanmar Times,

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