R150m for E Cape cotton project

20 July 2004

South Africa’s struggling cotton sector is soon to be boosted by a R150-million investment project in the Eastern Cape.

The province is one of the country’s poorest, and the initiative by East London-based textile manufacturer Da Gama Textiles is expected to create some 6 000 seasonal jobs and empower local black farmers.

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According to Business Day’s trade supplement The South African Exporter, the project forms part of the cotton industry’s development strategy, which looks to draw emerging black farmers into cotton growing.

It is being supported by the provincial agricultural department – which wants to develop the province’s economy through agriculture – the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, Cotton South Africa, and the South African Cotton Producers Organisation.

The project will be implemented in Qamata, Middledrift, Cradock, Somerset East, Addo and Peddie. 1 474ha will be planted in 2004, and it’s hoped that 36 000 bales of cotton will be produced over the next three years.

Business Day reports that the cotton will be used to manufacturer an African-branded bed linen and towel range.

South Africa is currently a net importer of cotton, but the multi-million rand initiative is expected to change that. Da Gama hopes the project will boost the company’s attempts to compete in the international textile export market – specifically in the US and the EU.

Given the seasonal nature of cotton, Da Gama is considering planting complementary winter crops, like wheat, to ensure the sustainability of employment for the cotton pickers.

SouthAfrica.info reporter