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Ugandan Cotton Crop Climbs 34% as Higher Prices Attract Farmers

  • Growers produced 202,140 bales, highest since 2011-12 season
  • Nation is East Africa’s second-biggest grower after Tanzania

Uganda, East Africa’s second-biggest cotton grower, said output in the 2017-18 season rose by a third after higher prices in the previous year encouraged farmers to plant more.

Output for the harvest that ended in the first quarter of this year climbed to 202,140 180-kilogram (397-pound) lint bales from 151,072 bales in the 2016-17 season, Damalie Lubwama, an agronomist at the state-run Cotton Development Organisation, said by phone Wednesday from the capital, Kampala.

Production was the highest since 254,000 bales in the 2011-12 season before drought and lower prices cut yields, according to the agency. While harvesting is complete, ginneries are still processing the crop and marketing will continue until the end of September, she said.

“Good prices last season played a role in encouraging farmers to plant more,” she said. “We have partnered with private-sector players who are providing inputs to farmers.”

Cotton futures climbed 12 percent in 2016 and a further 11 percent last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The price has risen 7.1 percent so far this year to 84.24 U.S. cents per pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Companies such as U.K.-based Plexus Cotton Ltd. are supporting smallholder cotton farmers in the East African nation to boost yields.

The agency anticipates a “positive trajectory” for production in the coming season, Lubwama said, while declining to give forecasts because most planting will only begin in July.

Cotton, tea and tobacco are major exports in the nation that’s also Africa’s biggest shipper of coffee beans. Uganda ranks behind Tanzania as the region’s largest cotton producer, according to Food & Agriculture Organization data.

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