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February 01, 2011

Tanzania cotton harvest forecast cut by 40%

by Fred Ojambo

Tanzania cut its lint cotton forecast for the 2010-11 marketing season by 40 percent after bad weather conditions affected yields, the Tanzania Cotton Board said.

The country will probably produce 54,000 metric tons of lint cotton in the season through June compared with a previous estimate of 90,000 tons, Marco Mtunga, a quality regulation official, said in an e-mailed statement from Dar es Salaam, the commercial city.

The crop in the East African country was reduced because of a drought that lasted from December 2009 to March last year and “excessive rains,” he said. Yields were also affected by “improper application of water-based insecticides,” Mtunga said.

Tanzania produces the medium-fiber variety of cotton. The nation planned to raise lint cotton output to 260,000 metric tons in 2014-15 through improved productivity, extending credit to farmers and introducing contract farming, Mtunga said Aug. 16. It was Africa’s sixth-biggest producer of the fiber in 2008, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization.

The drop in production follows a slump to 89,000 tons in the 2009-10 season from 123,000 tons a year earlier, according to the board.

Tanzania plants the crop in its western region in December and the reaps in from June through August, while the eastern region plants in February to March and harvests from August to October, according to the board. The country’s cotton marketing season starts July 1 through June, it says.

As many as 500,000 Tanzanian farmers cultivate about 485,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) of cotton in the country’s northern, coastal and western regions, the board said.

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