32 Figure 17: Soya bean Production, Area Planted and Yield, 2012-2016 Source: Crop Forecast Survey Data, 2012-2016 6.4 Cotton Cotton is one of the major export crops grown solely by smallholder farmers in Zambia. It is a crop produced by over 150,000 smallholder households, representing 10 percent of smallholder farmers in Zambia (Kabwe et al., 2016). Cotton production was 111,902 MT in 2016, a 7.7 percent increase from 2015. This is mainly explained by the slight increase in yields of about 100 kilograms per hectare since area under cotton has been trending downwards (Figure 18). Low productivity continues to be the major hindrance to growth in the sector making the sector uncompetitive and confining producers to poverty.
33 In terms of the general trends, cotton seed production peaked in 2012 with production as high as 275,000 MT. Since then, cotton seed production has averaged around 110,000 MT. There are currently 11 ginning companies with over 300,000MT ginning capacity per annum. Prices of cotton have been a major disincentive for cotton producers in Zambia. Despite the gradual increase in prices of seed cotton on the local market from ZMW1.6 per kg of seed cotton in 2012 to ZMW2.6 per kg of seed cotton in 2014, production has continued to decline. This is partly due to the mistrust farmers have developed over the ginning companies, thus failing to respond to price incentives. However, when the price of seed cotton increased to ZMW2.6 per kg in 2015 from ZMW2.5 per kg of seed cotton in 2014, farmers responded and cultivated more cotton. This response was anchored in an increased level of trust from farmers based on a noted consistency in the increase of the price of seed cotton. However, seed cotton production of 2015 was affected by prolonged drought that was experienced in cotton growing areas. This resulted in farmers reducing area under cotton in 2016. However, because of improved yield, 2016 recorded an increase in production. Figure 18: Cotton Production, Area Planted and Yield, 2012-2016 Source: Crop Forecast Survey Data (2012-2016)