A Comparative Study of Conventional and organic Cotton production Among Small holder farmers in Chongwe District

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Hakooma, Chilala Royen
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University of Zambia
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.
Students Project Reports
Farm mechanization , Cotton Farmers