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International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry 2015, 5(4): 217-225 DOI: 10.5923/j.ijaf.20150504.02 Identify and Assess the Challenges of Cotton Production in the Tolon District of the Northern Region, Ghana Adam Bawa Yssif1, Dawuni Mohammed2,*, Ibrahim Hamdu3 1 Department of Languages and Liberal Studies, Tamale Polytechnic, Ghana 2
  International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry 2015, 5(4): 217-225 DOI: 10.5923/j.ijaf.20150504.02 Identify and Assess the Challenges of Cotton Production in the Tolon District of the Northern Region, Ghana Adam Bawa Yssif  1 , Dawuni Mohammed 2,* , Ibrahim Hamdu 3 1 Department of Languages and Liberal Studies, Tamale Polytechnic, Ghana 2 Department of Statistics, Mathematics and Science, Tamale Polytechnic, Ghana 3 Department of Agricultural Engineering, Tamale Polytechnic, Ghana Abstract   This paper presents a study to identify and assess the challenges of cotton production in the Tolon District of the  Northern Region. This is an applied research study of a descriptive-surveying kind .The objectives of this research is to; assess the level of Capacity building that cotton farmers have received to boost production during the past decade (2002  –   2012), assess the quality of inputs given to cotton companies, to identify and assess farmers concerns over the system of recovery of inputs cost to farmers in the Tolon District within the period, and to determine whether prices paid for seed cotton over the years afford farmers a surplus income. Cotton production in Ghana started in 1968 under the control of the Cotton Development Board of the Ministry of Agriculture and performed its function effectively until 1977 when production began to fall due to declining producer prices relative to food crops. Indications are that Ghana achieved high level of production  before other neighboring countries in West Africa who started production before her. About 75.0% of the farmers are from the ages of 36 years and above. About 55.0% of the cotton farmers in the district do not have any formal education. The mean dependency ratio of the farmers stands at 8.1. It was found that more than 80% of the famers cultivate only 1-2 units of land. All the respondents receive inputs from the company but none is by the Government. The analysis showed that none of the farmers received any extension service form the Ministry of Agriculture or from any government source. The incomes of the farmers are quite low, mostly below GH ₵1000.00 per annum. They generally depend on the household for labour on their farms. Delay delivery, poor quality pesticides and erratic rain fall are the major challenges facing cotton production in the Tolon District of the Northern Region of Ghana.   Keywords   Identify, Assess, Challenges, Cotton Production, Northern Region 1. Introduction Cotton is a major cash crop cultivated in most parts of the globe including Ghana. It is a soft, stable Fiber shrub native to tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world including the Americas, India and Africa. The cultivation of cotton started seven thousand years ago, in the Indus Valley, a place inhabited today by north-western India and eastern Pakistan. According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (2010), the largest producers of cotton in 2009 were China and India with annual production of about 34 million and 24 million bales respectively. The textile industries in these two countries consume up to 80% of what they produce. The increasing importance of this crop is  because of its worldwide usefulness especially in the Textile industry, its contribution to gross domestic product of various countries, the income it provides for households * Corresponding author: (Dawuni Mohammed) Published online at Copyright © 2015 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved engaged in the production of the crop, and the uses and  potential uses to which its seeds can be put. It is estimated that US textile mills presently consume about 7.6 million  bales of cotton a year. Eventually, about 57% of it is converted into apparel, more than a third into home furnishing and the remainder into industrial products (ICAC, 2002). According to the United States Department of Agriculture (2008), cotton seed oil ranked fifth in production among vegetable oils in the 2007/08 crop season with a bit less than 4% of world volumes. Cotton seed hulls have also been used to provide roughage in animal feed. The remains of the seed after the oil has been extracted can also be use as flour for livestock feed. Whereas these usages refer to animal consumption, research is being conducted to develop new uses for cotton seed derivatives in human diet. Major achievements in this direction include development of gossypol extraction techniques (gossypol is a toxic compound found in the cotton plant, mainly concentrated in the cotton seed), development of “glandless” cotton varieties (where the plant is genetically bred to produce gossypol-free cotton seed). After the oil has been extracted from the cotton seed, the residue (i.e. cotton seed meal) is high in proteins  218 Adam Bawa Yssif   et al. : Identify and Assess the Challenges of Cotton Production in the Tolon District of the Northern Region, Ghana (about 40%). It is usually marketed for animal feed, although it can have other usages (ICAC, 2002). Despite the numerous uses that the crop can be put into, and its importance to incomes and lively hoods of cotton farmers, several challenges confront its production worldwide. According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (2010), global cotton production was expected to  be 27.4 million tons in 2011/12-a rise of 12%. However, in comparison, increase in production is relatively small considering the doubling of prices experienced in 2010/11. Even though cotton production will increase more than the demand in 2011/12, high prices and competition from chemical fibers are expected to limit growth in mill use to 3% Limited resources (including land, seeds, water, and equipment) and competition from food crops are preventing cotton production from rising further in 2011/12. Cotton production in Ghana started in 1968 under the control of the cotton development board of the ministry of agriculture and performed its function effectively until 1977 when production began to fall due to declining producer  prices relative to food crops. Indications are that Ghana achieved a high level of production before other neighboring countries in West Africa (Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and La Cote d’Ivoire) had done so. Successes achieved in these countries in terms of production continue to serve as  benchmarks for Ghana. For instance, while Ghana only managed to produce 36,000 metric tons of seed cotton in 2006/7, Burkina Faso produced a colossal 700,000 metric tons. The fortunes of Ghana Cotton Company limited (GCCL) had drastically declined over the years due to both internal and external factors before there was an increase in operations in 2011. Trend of events in the cotton industry since 1968 appears as follows; the government of Ghana in 1968 established the Cotton Development Board (CDB) with the mandate to stimulate the production of cotton, ensure adequate supply of raw materials to local textile industries and undertake research on improved cotton varieties. The CDB performed its functions effectively with increasing production until 1977 when Production began to fall due to declining  producer prices relative to food crops. The CDB was  privatized and reconstituted into the Ghana Cotton Company Limited (GCCL) in 1985 with 30% of its shares taken by government. The government zoned the operational area later in its operations among several cotton producing firms including Nulux Plantations, Intercontinental Farms Limited, Plantations Development and Ghana Cotton Company Limited. It is however important to mention that most of these companies ceased operation due to several difficulties ranging from sourcing funds from financial institutions to finance their operations, to difficulties of recovering loans from farmers because of poor performance. 2. Literature Review Global Cotton Production Literature on global cotton shows that cotton production has assumed a high level of importance by most countries in the world considering its current and potential value as well as the general uses of lint and seed of the crop (ICAC, 2002). It is because this that the crop is grown in most countries around the world and performs much better in the Northern Hemisphere and gaining significance in terms of land use after food and soya beans. Liberalization of world trade has  been welcomed by producers of cotton worldwide and is manifested in how heavily cotton is traded by way of exports  between countries across the globe. Statistics show that cotton is grown in more than 80 countries in the world, on about 2% of the world's arable land, and over one hundred (100) countries are engaged in the export or import of cotton (ICAC, 2002). According to United States Department of Agriculture (2007), world production of cotton has been highest at 120,000,000 bales in 2004/6 and slightly below that in 2007. The major producers of cotton in the world are U.S, China, India and Pakistan and contributes approximately 2/3 of the world's cotton production (ibid, 2007). Cotton production worldwide is also noted for the several numbers of family units who are engaged in the production of the crop and the employment opportunity that it generally offers. Several family units are engaged directly in cotton  production. Labour hired on farms, labour working in ancillary services such as transportation, ginning, bailing and storage. It also provides employment for several people in allied industries such as agricultural inputs, machinery and equipment, cotton seed crushing and textile manufacturing. It is estimated that over 300 million people are engaged in the production of the crop including labour in ancillary services (ICAC, 2002). Cotton cultivation contributes to food security and improved life expectancy in rural areas of developing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This is a drive towards committing the world towards eradicating hunger. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United  Nations (FAO) champions this course and the establishment of the committee on world food security (CFS) in 1974 was to further enhance achievement of world food security  policies. Cotton plays an important role in industrial development. With the world industrial revolution, the cotton industry has experienced much investment in terms of machinery and improved techniques in textile production as well as increased capacity for industrial usage. Much of cotton use has gone into the making of apparels and home furnishing. It is estimated that about 56% of all fibres used for apparels and home furnishing are from cotton. It is generally recognized that most consumers prefer cotton-personal care items to those containing synthetic fibers (USDA, 2007). World textile fiber consumption in 1998 was approximately 45 million tons and cotton represented approximately 20 million of the total consumption (ICAC, 2007). Evidently, the rapidly evolving techniques of textile production together with development in the world of politics, economics and  population combine to give an overall pattern of world   International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry 2015, 5(4): 217-225 219 consumption and usage (Taylor, 1999). Global Challenges of Cotton Production Though the cotton crop assumes a lot of usefulness and importance worldwide, there strive to attain greater scale of cotton production. This is not without difficulty and hindrance. Challenges faced by some notable cotton  producing countries in the world are discussed below. Such countries include China, United States of America, India and Pakistan. To start with China, cotton cultivation remains highly fragmented with most of its cotton farms being very small and the quality of fibre remaining far from favorable. According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (2007), over the last one decade, the area under cotton cultivation in china has remained around 5.0 million hectares. It was estimated at 5.6 million hectares in 2004. The number of cotton farmer families, however, exceeded 4 million. Thus, each such family was having on an average just 1.4 hectares of land for cultivating cotton. Such small farms have got two impacts on cotton cultivation in that country. Management of small fields were fine and with the result the yield in China was about 1.5 times that of the world average. The maximum yield achieved by its farmers sometimes was as high as 2,050 kg per hectare (ICAC, 2002). It is however noted that though most of its cotton farms are very small and the quality of its cotton remains unfavorable, as many as 100 varieties of cotton are being grown in the country (ICAC, 2002). Some areas may be growing 10 varieties in the same year. Likewise, some individual farmers may be growing two or three varieties at the same time on their tiny farms. The net outcome of this is that it is hard to guarantee consistency of yield because of diverse modes of cultivation, different intrinsic qualities of cotton and difficulties in procuring and processing cotton by variety (ibid, 2002). Each year, cotton growers in Chain account for more than 25 percent of worldwide insecticide usage, and 12 percent of all pesticide usages. The crop requires seven times more fertilizer than insecticides, and the runoff from all these chemicals pollutes the rivers and lakes, leeches into the groundwater, and leads to China' abnormally high water  pollution. Farmers in China are using more than six times the quantity of pesticides and fertilizers than growers in sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2010). Cotton also is a remarkably water-intensive crop. Eco Fashion World estimates that to grow enough cotton for a single t-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water. The expansion of cotton farming is leading to increase desertification in areas of the world. In China, cotton farming is increasing the size of the Taklimakan Desert because an unsustainable amount of water is being diverted to grow the crop. Challenges in cotton production in Pakistan range from several factors highlighted below: High temperature at flowering stage, late wheat harvesting and resulting in decline of area under the crop, Soil and water Problems, Weather adversaries, Pest attack, improper production technology in major cotton growing areas of Punjab and Sindh. There are many social as well as economic problems facing cotton production including; Illiterate farming community, High cost of inputs, Small landholdings, Less adoptability of innovations by the farmers, Lack of Guidance to farmers among others (Khuda, et al., 2005). Regarding India, the spiraling cotton prices and the  precarious cotton scenario in the country are threatening the survival of the domestic industry. According to Indian Agricultural Ministry (2009), cotton production in 2010-2011 was expected to reach 335 bales. The Government estimated domestic consumption at 266 bales with export ceiling of 55 bales. The seasonal nature of cotton production confronts its  production in Chain as well. Irrigation cotton production is  practiced in two folds during the year and covers about 20% and 7% to total land area, rain fed cotton production overs about 65% to total area, while rice fallow sown in the year covers 8% of total land area (ICAC, 2007). The use of poor quality inputs like seeds and pesticides results in low productivity of cotton. This increases the cost of cultivation. Multiplicity of cotton varieties/hybrids leading to rampant mixing is another major problem. Some of the other deficiencies in the cotton sector are Poor fiber attributes of most varieties, rapid deterioration of fiber quality of hybrids with successive pickings, tardy transfer of Agricultural technologies to the farmers' fields and poor infrastructure at market yards and high trash content in cotton (4-7 percent). Wide range of contaminates in cotton numbering over 25 types despite being handpicked from the farm (ICA, 2007). Cotton Production in Sub-Saharan Africa According to Baffes (2004), African cotton is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers, using sustainable growing methods with harmony between agriculture, the natural environment and human beings. About 8% of the cotton traded in the world market is harvested in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dorward et al (1998) explain that Africa cotton is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers, and there are only very few large plantations. The  production of cotton in sub-Saharan Africa is characterized  by subsistence agriculture and peasant in nature. They further add that reliance on inconsistent weather, low level of mechanization, use of family labour, are some of the common attributes of Sub-Saharan African cotton  production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2002), the restrictions imposed by so- called “traditional” techniques on the household labour force are among the main causes for the persistence of subsistence economies in tropical and sub-tropical Africa and in a large part of Mediterranean Africa. This explains why a greater proportion of the total contribution of Sub-Saharan African cotton production to world cotton is accounted for by smallholder cotton farmers (Beets, 1998). The cotton plants love warmth, the need about 200 days of sunshine in the season to flourish and bear fruit. For that  220 Adam Bawa Yssif   et al. : Identify and Assess the Challenges of Cotton Production in the Tolon District of the Northern Region, Ghana alone, it does well in the dry or humid savannahs of Africa. The climate, with its high average temperatures and alternation between dry and wet seasons favours the growing of this natural fibre crop (ICAC, 2007). In Africa, cotton growth is alternated with other crops such as the basic food crops like maize, soy or groundnuts. These reduce leaching of soils and the occurrence of pests. Cotton is often a complementary cash crop and is grown for sale, alongside the foods grown in subsistence farming and thus plays an important part in securing their food supplies (Sabo, et al., 2009). Artificial irrigation, as often used in large plantations, is  practically not used in Africa. The smallholder farmers' work with rain-fed cultivation, in other words natural rainfall has to be enough for watering the crops. The wet and dry phases in the African growing areas are helpful to meet the needs of the cotton plant. In its growth phases, cotton is highly sensitive to excess moisture, in the first germination and growth phase, the cotton plant needs wet soils, but in the maturing phase the quality of the fibres may be damaged if conditions are too wet. The available rain water has to be used efficiently, specifically in the dry areas of Africa. That requires a balanced use of fertilizer or mulching. The soil  between the cotton plants is covered with organic material such as leaves to reduce loss of moisture by evaporation (ICAC, 2007). Harvesting is mainly by hand and this takes much longer,  but it also gives major benefits compared with machine harvesting. The machine makes one pass through the cotton field, taking not only the cotton bowl, but everything in the field. Human pickers work in a much more careful and environmentally sound way. The hand pickers take only completely mature fibre bolls. Hand-picked cotton is also cleaner, because the machines take considerable quantities of soil, leaves, and twigs, with them (Organic Cotton, 2010). Pests have been a border on cotton production in Sub-Saharan Africa and cotton farmers have resorted to the use of the chemicals without much training and concern of the effects of the chemicals. According to Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK, 2013), Cotton grown in the Ethiopian Rift Valley where farmers rely heavily on synthetic Pesticides to control pests, have little or no training in pesticide use and tend to use the chemicals excessively and inappropriately. This has caused numerous problems such as pesticide poisoning, water and Soil pollution, Livestock deaths and loss of biodiversity. It has also contributed to pest resistance which has driven farmers to increase their pesticide use? This strategy is unsustainable, not just in terms of health and environmental impacts, but also in terms of livelihood. One approach for reduction of pesticides used, particularly in sustainable concepts such as Cotton made in Africa, is integrated Pest control. One method used is “Threshold praying”, that is, not using “Preventive Spraying” but spraying only if certain damage thresholds are exceeded. That is if the pest or Pathogen attack is so serious that it is likely to cause economic damage. The “damage threshold” Principle requires intensive training of farmers, but also permits reduction of pesticide use by up to 30%. Genetically modified cotton is another approach of reducing cotton pest and the use of pesticides. Many African cotton farmers likewise see genetically modified cotton as a technical  progress, and do not want to be left out of it. But so far, the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa where smallholder farmers grow genetically modified cotton is Burkina Faso ’s  organic cotton (2010). Cotton Industry in Ghana Recognizing the potential of cotton production, the Government of Ghana in 1968 established the Cotton Development Board (CDB) with the mandate to stimulate the production of cotton, ensure adequate supply of raw materials to local textile industries and undertake research on improved varieties (MOFA, 2006). The CDB performed its functions effectively with increasing production until 1977 when Production began to fall due to declining producer  prices relative to food crops. The CDB was privatized and re-constituted into the Ghana Cotton Company Limited (GCCL) in 1985 with 30% of its shares taken by government. This was a move towards building private sector effect into the structure of the company and still recognizing Government ’s  voice on decisions of cotton production in the operations of the company. Peasant Cotton Production Agricultural production in Ghana is still mostly undertaken by smallholder farmers on relatively small plots of land and is very labour intensive. Shifting cultivation in  both the forest and savanna zones if practiced; a new parcel of land is opened up each year for cereal production, followed usually by root crops and plantains in the forest zone, or groundnuts or cotton in the savanna zone (MOFA, 2006). According to Ellman (1998), this method of cultivation is open to risks such as fluctuations in seasonal rainfall and soil fertility and unreliable access to inputs. By adopting a low-input method of production, risk is reduced. Yields however are also reduced, while the ability to respond to factors such as good rainfall patterns is further limited by the unavailability and cost of inputs such as fertilizer, insecticides and simple farm tools. Under these circumstances of uncertainty and total absence of crop insurance, many peasants are scared of getting into any type of indebtedness involving substantial monetary magnitudes. In fact it is a virtue not to borrow. Thus one of the distinctive features of a peasant family is collective self-reliance. Operations of Cotton Companies in Ghana Zoning is a principle of demarcating the cotton growing areas into an exclusive zone for particular companies. This means that, famers within a zone are limited to dealing only with the company assigned to operate in that zone (MOFA, 2006). The zoning principle was introduced during the 2001/2 crop season by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to address malpractices in the cotton industry. At the time when seed cotton production was failing, there was a  proliferation of cotton companies. This proliferation was
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