Togo: Cotton Sector to See Breakthrough After Talks between Olam and Farmers

Friday, 14 June 2024 16:51
Togo: Cotton Sector to See Breakthrough After Talks between Olam and Farmers

(Togo First) - Togolese cotton farmers and the government recently met with Olam Group to discuss the cotton industry. This could be good news for the sector, after a 2023/2024 season marked by tensions and mild output.

The meeting took place on June 11 and 12 at the Ministry of Agriculture in Lomé, gathering the industry’s key players. The Minister of Agriculture, Antoine Gbegbeni, oversaw the talks, alongside representatives of the Nouvelle société cotonnière du Togo (NSCT) and the Fédération nationale des groupements de producteurs de coton du Togo (FNGPC).

Major issues covered included the fixing of the purchase price of seed cotton at 300 F CFA for 1st choice and 280 F CFA for 2nd choice. The goal was to guarantee farmers better remuneration. It was revealed that NPKSB and Urea fertilizers will be sold at subsidized prices (14,000 F CFA per 50-kilogram bag). 

The decisions emerged after farmers complained about input costs.

Also during the sitting, a tripartite committee was set up to examine all strategic issues plaguing the cotton industry. The committee regroups representatives from FNGPC, NSCT, and the State.

In recent months, farmers have lost trust in Olam, complaining about how it manages the sector after it took over the NSCT in 2020. Among others, they complained about stagnant yields and delays in supplying essential inputs.

"We've been watching Olam for more than three years, and right now, we don’t trust them to move forward," said Koussouwè Kouroufei, president of the Fédération Nationale des Groupements de Producteurs de Coton (FNGPC). The body regroups five regional unions for 27 prefectural unions with 3075 producer groups, totaling 153,000 cotton growers.

The Minister of Agriculture lauded the recent talks and urged farmers to ramp up efforts for greater results in the coming campaign. Farmers are yet to comment. 

Since it took over the sector, via the NSCT, Olam has struggled to achieve its major goal of doubling Togo’s cotton output. It was only this year that the Asian group recorded its first output increase. Many blame Olam and its management for the situation but there are other factors behind the shortfalls (in yields and production). 

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