|dc.description.abstract||Recent comparative studies in Zambia on conventionally and organically grown cotton
established higher profits for organic cotton grown on demonstration plots than
conventional cotton grown by the small scale farmers in the area. However, gross margins
should only be compared with figures from farms with similar characteristics. This study
therefore was conducted to compare the two technologies under similar farm conditions.
This report provides a basis on which farmers will make informed decisions whether to
engage in organic or conventional cotton production.
A comparative study was conducted on organic and conventional cotton grown by
smallholder farmers in Chongwe District for the 2005/06 farming season. The research
compared the yields, the cost structure, limiting production factors and the profitability of
the two technologies. Research data was obtained through administering a structured
questionnaire to respondents who were all members of CHOPPA and unstructured
interviews were conducted with key informants who were the project implementers.
Secondary data on conventional cotton was acquired from CHOPPA and K A T C .
The research established a higher profit for conventional than organic cotton. Conventional
recorded a profit of Z M K 210, 6000 while organic cotton recorded a loss of Z M K 350, 904.
The loss in organic cotton was attributed to low average yields of 140.8Kgs per hectare
compared to 1024Kgs in conventional cotton. Organic cotton had higher production costs
of Z M K 1,017,000 compared to Z M K 726, 000 per hectare for conventional cotton. The
production costs were 40% higher in organic compared to conventional cotton. The level of
knowledge on the technicalities of organic cotton production was established to be the most
limiting factor to the organic cotton technology. The profitability of organic cotton is
expected to improve with the increased level of knowledge of the organic farmer. The
difference in the cost structure included the cost of labour which was higher in organic than
conventional cotton, the cost of pest control which was higher by 51% in conventional
compared to organic cotton and lastly the fertilizing costs which were higher in organic
than in conventional cotton.
Based on this study, it was recommended that a research be carried out to observe
performance of organic cotton over a long period of time. The project should establish
strong linkages with other stakeholders to facilitate development of the organic farming
technology. Lastly, the current organic cotton technology should be modified from basic to
higher input organic production, which incorporates the use of organically certified
pesticides in production. This w i l l enable concurrent pest control.||en