Farmer 101: The basics of cotton farming

Could cotton be a commodity for you to produce?An expert panel gave tips during a recent discussing on the basics of cotton farming

On a recent episode of our weekly Gather To Grow interactive discussion on Twitter, farmer Gugulethu Mahlangu and Food For Mzansi editor for audience and engagement Dawn Noemdoe unpacked the do’s and don’ts of cotton farming. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

On a recent episode of our weekly Gather To Grow interactive discussion on Twitter, farmer Gugulethu Mahlangu and Food For Mzansi editor for audience and engagement Dawn Noemdoe unpacked the dos and don’ts of cotton farming. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Are you considering going into cotton production? Here are some expert answers to some of the questions you are likely to have.

On a recent episode of Food For Mzansi’s weekly Gather To Grow interactive discussion on Twitter, farmer Gugulethu Mahlangu and Food For Mzansi editor for audience and engagement Dawn Noemdoe unpacked the do’s and don’ts of cotton farming.

Joining them as expert panellists were:

Did you miss this live session? You can listen to the recording here. Meanwhile, here are some of the highlights from the lively discussion.

ALSO READ: Cotton farming: The dos and don’ts

The cotton farming process

Tertius Schoeman explained that the cotton is on the field for between five and six months, and it is a summer crop. “Cotton is a crop that needs a lot of hot weather, the hotter the weather the better the crop”, he said. Once the seed cotton is picked, it is taken to a cotton ginnery where the seed and lint are separated. After this it goes into the spinners where it is weaved and knitted.

“Cotton is a great crop because it provides an income for the farmer and then further down the value chain of course there are many products that can be made from cotton,” explained Anette Bennet when discussing the versatility of cotton.

She highlighted that once the seed is separated from the fibre in the ginnery some by-products can be made from the seed. The seed can be pressed to create oil which can be extracted for food purposes, the making of soaps or for medical use.

Bennet said that cotton is the only crop where the whole plant can be used. She encouraged farmers to plant cotton as it is a good rotational crop and can be used in rotation with maize, soy and sunflowers.

Meanwhile, Petros Sithole echoed that cotton is a very hardy crop. “Cotton will not die, it will just wait for the next rain to come”, Sithole pointed out.

ALSO READ: From food to fibre: Your cotton farming essentials

Production costs and profitability of cotton farming

Furthermore, Bennet also discussed the production costs for commercial farming and said that fertilisers were especially expensive. She added that costs had recently gone up by 30%. According to Bennet input costs for commercial farming irrigation is around R30 000 per hectare and the picking costs are quite expensive as well.

When it comes to smallholder farmers, Schoeman recommended that the farmers have about 50 hectares of dryland cotton and 10 hectares of irrigation cotton, this way they are able to earn a reasonable livelihood.

When discussing the profitability of cotton farming Bennet explained that farmers get R10,50 per kilo for seed cotton. This means that farmers are able to get between R9000 to R10 000 profit per hectare. Meanwhile Sithole pointed out that cotton farming was a great means to alleviate poverty in poverty-stricken areas.

GATHER TO GROW: Keep an eye on Food For Mzansi’s Twitter account for information on the next interactive discussion.

Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.

Exit mobile version