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Quton for improved cotton production in Malawi

August 21, 2022 / Joseph Mizimbe
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Cotton farmers have been complaining about poor cotton seed germination, less resistant to disease and are urging companies that produce seed to improve the cotton genetics and technologies as one way of dealing with the problems.

One of Malawi’s cotton seed producers, Quton Limited, says it has heeded to farmers’ complaints and will support modern cotton cultivation practices through provision of extension services and high quality seeds to local farmers so that the country achieves improved cotton production.

Quton Limited’s General Manager John Ackim Lungu made the promise in an exclusive interview with this reporter.

He explains that the company has put in place strategies that allow farmers to access improved cotton genetics and technologies.

“We are committed to bridge the existing gap in terms of technologies available for production of cotton, which is one of the most important cash crops in the country,” he says.

According to Lungu, cotton production directly supports 300,000 families and the revival of the crop as an income generator and a forex earner will have a huge boost to the agrarian community and the nation at large.

The company says it has in place modalities to assist the farming community realize their potential of becoming a bigger scale highly robust enterprise that produces and supplies high quality cotton.

For the past two years, Quton has been attempting to provide relevant extension services to farmers who grow cotton in the country by recruiting and training energetic individuals on cotton agronomy around BGII Bollgard cotton seed who in turn, visit allocated Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) to continuously engage farmers throughout the crop season.

“This extension programme has been in effect for two successive years with over 20 field extension officers on the ground and it includes several other important stakeholders in the industry with farmer at the center,” he says.

So far, the General Manager says the programme has proven to be a success and it will continue.

Quton Limited’s main product is Bollgard (BG) II Hybrid Cotton Seed, which is incorporated with the BG2 technology, a revolutionary solution to the low productivity and Lepidopteran pests of cotton crop.

The variety produces two Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins Cry1 Ac & Cry2 Ab which together manage the key Lepidopteran pest of cotton known as African Bollworm but also provide substantial control of Pink Bollworm and Tobacco Caterpillar.

Lungu touts BGII technology as a highly profitable variety determined by its unique attribute of being a high yielding crop on the output and reduced cost on the inputs.

Meanwhile, the company say it is testing new hybrids in its research programme to improve on variety characteristics beneficial to farmers.

Quton distributes seed brands through Cotton Council, Ginners and directly to the farmers as well.

“While this model of distribution continues, we have also started working with agro-dealers to improve our outreach and cover remaining demand. All we want is to provide farmers with the choice to invest in better seed technology,” he elaborates.

Lungu further says being the only organized cotton seed Company in Malawi brings a lot of responsibility both in actions and results.

“We see ‘quality of seed’ as the key differentiation for us. We set and abide by highest quality standards in terms of packaging, purity, performance and results. And we are dedicated to reach out to the farmers with every agronomy related support required and be there with them to share their success,” he says.

Besides cotton, Quton also produces a variety of vegetable seeds that are tailor-made to local growing conditions and their pledge is to evolve in terms of improving the existing seed technologies and bringing in the new ones.

“We intend to diversify our business by looking into crop seeds that make business sense. We have already introduced ourselves to the vegetable business and would like to increase the presence of our products and our messages. We want farmers in Malawi to see and feel us growing close to them in terms of support and products,” he says.

 Lungu says Quton also wants to exert its uniqueness through planned establishment of robust mechanisms of extension messaging and complaint handling to ensure that they deliver on objectives of taking the cotton industry in the right direction.

Currently, the company says it is working with the Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS) so that the genetics of the seeds they produce should conform to Malawi environment.

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