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South African cotton projects create employment

Almost 50,000 jobs have been created in South Africa’s cotton industry as a result of the increased number of hectares planted. In 2014, the cotton industry was offered funds to establish a cluster. This connects the entire cotton supply chain under one umbrella: farmers, ginneries, yarn manufacturers, weavers and knitters, dyers, finishing plants, retailers and consumers. Its aim is to improve capacity and competitiveness and create jobs in the country’s cotton, textile and apparel industry. Production has increased from 25,000 bales in 2013 to roughly 2,00,000 bales in the 2017-18 season, with a further increase of 20 per cent expected in the new production year.

During the 2017-2018 season, five cotton projects involving 1,300 small farmers were supported as part of the program. They planted a total of 5000 hectares of cotton. Every three hectares of cotton planted creates four jobs – three on the farm and one in the processing and retail sectors. This means that almost 50,000 jobs were created or maintained by the program since its inception in 2014.

The significant growth in the cotton industry has also resulted in capital investment from the private sector in cotton processing. Farmers are putting their hands deep in their pockets to buy new harvesting machines to deal with the bigger crop.