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ORGANIC COTTON PRODUCTION IN ZAMBIA Kasisi_ Agricultural Training Powered By Docstoc

Kasisi, Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) Zambia


(i) The importance of cotton
Cotton has been used for producing garments for at least 8,000 years. Cotton is the most
important fibre crop with an estimated world production of 23 million tons of fibre (lint) in
2004-051. The three largest producers are China, the USA, and India, followed by Pakistan,
the countries of the former USSR, and Brazil. By-products of cotton include the edible oil
gained from the seeds, and the seed cake and husks are used as fodder and manure.

(ii) Zambia’s contribution to the world trade in cotton
Cotton is by far the most important cash crop grown by small holders in Zambia. It is
estimated that over 130,000 farmers grew the crop in the 2001/2 growing season. Of these
farmers, 90% grow the cotton on between 0.5-2.5 ha. Despite the amount of cotton
produced, Zambia contributes less than 3% of the lint that is traded in the world. Because
Zambia’s share of the market is so small increasing production would have little or no
influence on world prices.
World market cotton prices fluctuate to a great degree and have come down considerably
over the last two decades. According to Oxfam and other NGOs, this is partly due to high
farm subsidies in the USA2. It is calculated that these subsidies have reduced world prices by
up to 26%.

(iii) Requirements of the cotton crop
The cotton species (Gossypium sp.) belongs to the Malvaceae family (like okra and
hibiscus). Its wild relatives are hardy perennial shrubs with hairy leaves and short fibres.
Cotton is grown in a wide range of climatic conditions in temperate, subtropical and tropical
regions of all the continents. Ideal conditions are in regions with long vegetation periods
without frost, high temperatures (ideally around 30°C), ample sunshine, and a rather dry
climate. It requires a minimum of 500 mm water from rain or irrigation between germination
and boll formation. Cotton is very sensitive to water logging, which causes a reduction in
yields (more boll shedding) even when the plant appears to be unaffected. It prefers deep,
well-drained soils with a good nutrient content. With their long taproots penetrating up to
three meters in such soils, cotton plants can sustain short periods of drought. However,
cotton can also be grown on less ideal sites with shallow, sandy soils, both under irrigated
and rain-fed conditions. This requires adapting the selection of varieties and management

(iv) The growth stages of the cotton plant.
Cotton seeds take about 4 days to germinate after coming in contact with water. During the
first two weeks, growth of the leaves is slow as it is mainly the root that grows, penetrating
deeply into the soil to ensure water supply. After this, strong vegetative growth builds up the
leaves and branches, until the first flower buds emerge, between 6-9 weeks after planting.
Flowering starts at the first node of the first fruit-bearing branch and progresses from one
node to another along the branch. Flowering usually happens about 9-12 weeks after
planting. Flowers are white/yellow when they open, turning pink the following day.
Pollinated flowers take three to four weeks to reach the final size of the bolls. This boll
formation happens 12-15 weeks after planting and after another two to three weeks the bolls
open and are ready to be picked. Normally only about 1/3 of the flowers develop bolls, and

    Source: International Cotton Advisory Committee, World Statistics

this rate can drop to 10% when conditions are unfavourable, as in the case of drought, water
logging, cool weather, or heavy insect infestation. Bud and boll dropping can be caused by
both deficiency and excess of nutrients, or of moisture. However, the plant can pick up and
compensate for loss of buds or bolls by prolonging its production of flowers if the
unfavourable conditions last only for short periods, and if it is not too late in the season.

(v) Where can cotton be grown in Zambia?
 Cotton will grow best on deep well drained soils, but not dambo areas likely to become
 waterlogged and with modern varieties it can be now grown at altitudes of up to 1200 m. As
 mentioned before, cotton needs a minimum of 500 mm rainfall but does best with 750-850
 mm, evenly spread between November and March. Another factor that should be
 considered is minimum night time temperature. If temperatures drop too low (below 20oC)
 during the growing season lint quality will suffer. In Zambia cotton can be successfully
 grown in most of agro-ecological regions II and I. The exception to this is the light
 (Kalahari) soils that are found in Western province. In Zambia the soils are already low in
 organic matter content. If farmers can improve their soils through organic farming they will
 benefit from improved yields in all crops and will not have to rely on increasingly
 expensive artificial fertilisers.

(vi) What is organic farming?
Organic farming is a system of farming that works with nature as opposed to working
against nature. This should involve using techniques to achieve good crop yields without
harming either the environment or the people who live and work in it. The following
methods and materials are used in organic farming to achieve these aims.

Soil fertility and structure is maintained and improved by using:-
Recycled and composted crop and plant residues as well as animal manures.
Appropriate and timely soil cultivation techniques.
Crop rotations.
Planting green manures and legumes.
Mulching the soil surface.

Pest and Disease control is achieved with the following:-
Good planning and crop choice.
Using resistant crop varieties.
Crop rotation.
Good cultivation practices.
Encouraging useful predators, parasitoids and pathogens that feed on or destroy pests.
Using inter-plants and hedgerows.
Natural pesticides.

(vii) Growing cotton organically
To grow cotton organically the above methods have to be followed and to market the crop
organically the farm will have to be inspected and certified by a third party (this aspect will
be dealt with in appendix 4). The farmer cannot just grow one organic crop, as rotations
must be practised so organic cotton will be part of the crop system on the farm. The whole
farm will have to be managed organically and the farmer will have to adjust his or her
approach and mindset to the organic system.

Two questions may be asked:
What benefits will the farmer gain from farming organically if such a big change is to take
How can farmers be encouraged to start farming organically?
The following benefits should be emphasised: -
       Organic farming is sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.
       Soil fertility will improve.
       Soil structure will improve.
       Input costs will be reduced.
       The risks to the farmers’ health from pesticides will be reduced.
       Yields should increase.
       Organic premiums may be available for some crops.
As cotton is a low value cash crop, reduced input costs and higher yields will be of obvious
benefit to the farmer. At the present time there is an increasing demand for organic cotton
worldwide and if farmers start converting to organic methods now they will be able to
benefit from the growth of this market.

(viii) A note about Bt cotton
 Bt cotton
 In organic agriculture the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) is not allowed. For
 some years, seed companies have been promoting genetically engineered ‘Bt cotton’. It
 contains genes of the same microorganism, Bacillus thuringiensis, which is used in bio-
 control against a number of insect pests, also by organic farmers. The Bt cotton plant thus
 continuously produces an insecticide that prevents bollworms from feeding on it. However,
 bollworms frequently develop resistance, forcing the seed companies to develop new
 varieties of Bt cotton. Also, there is a risk that the development of resistance makes Bt
 sprays less effective, thus harming organic farmers.
 The cultivation of Bt cotton involves higher financial risk, since the seeds are considerably
 more expensive and usually the crop is grown with high inputs of fertilizers and pesticides
 against sucking pests. In India, many conventional farmers who tried Bt cotton complained
 about crop failure, due possibly to inappropriate varieties, unfavourable climatic
 conditions, or adulterated seeds. Despite the benefits promised by its promoters, growing
 Bt cotton seems to be a high-risk strategy.

Organic farmers find it increasingly more difficult obtaining cotton seed material that is
guaranteed GMO-free. Some certification bodies use test strips to check whether cotton
plants contain GMO.
Does Bt cotton reduce fibre quality?
In the US, where Bt cotton has been cultivated since 1996, there is an on-going debate over
the Bt technology’s effect on cotton fibre and quality. William Dunavant Jr, the CEO of
Dunavant, one of the world’s largest cotton merchants, believes that the Bt technology is
reducing the quality of American cotton. “I still believe the seed is a major, major problem
and I think a lot of people agree with that,” (1) he told participants to a 2002 national cotton
conference in the US. While Dunavant’s comments are not as yet backed up by scientific
studies, there are farmers and researchers in the US and Australia that share his concern that
GM cotton can have a negative impact on cotton quality, especially under certain
environmental stresses. This is what has happened in India, where Bt cotton was
commercialised in 2002. Farmers there received a lower price for Bt cotton because it was of
poorer quality. (2)
(1) Rene Pastor, “Dunavant says US cotton quality still lags, blames seeds,” Planet Ark, January 11, 2002
(2) Suman Sahai and Shakeelur Rahman, Performance of Bt cotton in India: Data from the first commercial crop, Gene Campaign, India, Aug 2003:

(i) Soil properties
Before soil fertility is considered it is best to look at soils and understand how organic
farmers should manage their soils.
The soil is a living whole, composed of mineral particles, millions of small and large
creatures, organic matter, air and moisture. The ratio of these components varies widely
depending on geography and climate. Soils are classified in soil science according to their
textures. This ranges from clay with mostly fine particles, to sand with mostly coarse
particles. In between there are ten more groupings classified according to the percentage of
the three particle sizes in the soil (clay, silt, sand). A loam soil contains a balance of fine
clay, medium size silt and coarse sand particles. Sandy loams and silty loams are light soils;
silty clay and clay are heavy soils. These classifications are based on the particle size of the
soils and are not related to the organic matter content of the soil. Clay soils hold water and
nutrients well but have poor drainage and are more difficult to work. Sandy soils are easier
to work and have good drainage but have low nutrient and water holding capacities. Cotton
prefers to be grown in a heavier soil but the soil must be free draining. The challenge for an
organic farmer is to maintain a healthy soil with an adequate level of organic matter.

 (ii) A Healthy Soil
The soil is where plant health begins and ends. Healthy soils have a buffering capacity that
allows balanced uptake of nutrients, creating a healthy plant that is less susceptible to pest
attack and will be more resistant to pest damage. By using the following table the farmer
will be able to assess if he or she has a healthy or unhealthy soil.
Table 1 Soil Health Table
  Soil Health Property          Characteristic of a Healthy Characteristic of an
                                Soil                            Unhealthy Soil
  Organic Matter                As high a level as possible,    Lack of organic matter.
                                more organic matter is put
                                back than is removed.
  Crop Appearance               Green, healthy, uniform,        Yellow, stunted, light green,
                                lush with a dense stand.        small.
  Erosion                       Soil stays in place; water      Blows easily, more prone to
                                and wind are not removing       erosion by wind and rain,
                                soil.                           topsoil erodes.
  Earthworms                    Earthworms are present,         Earthworms not present, no
                                seen after rain; holes and      holes, lack of worm casts.
                                worm casts are noticeable.
  Drainage and water            Water goes away fast,           Waterlogged, dries too fast,
  infiltration                  doesn’t stand, no ponding,      ponding, won’t drain.
                                soil can take a lot of rain.
  Workability                   Breaks up easily, smooth,       Lumps, has to be worked when
                                crumbles, easy to work and      moist or damp.
                                able to produce a good tilth.
  Soil Structure                Crumbly, loose, holds           Hard, won’t hold together,
                                together.                       lumpy, cloddy, compacted and

 Soil Colour                  Dark, black, dark brown,         Orange laterite, light, blue-
                              dark red.                        grey, bleached sandy colour.

 Drought sensitivity          Continuous growth even          Crop shows signs of stress
                              when there are weeks            after only a short period
                              without rain.                   without rain.
 Water retention              Holds moisture, gets by with     Doesn’t hold water, dries out,
                              less rain, retains more and     too wet or dry, runs out of
                              takes water freely.             moisture easily.
 Roots                        Larger, spread out, grow        Don’t penetrate,
                              down deep, numerous, good       underdeveloped, balled up,
                              penetration.                    grow crossways, corkscrew
                                                              shape, shallow and short.

The challenge then for the organic farmer is to create and maintain a healthy soil. The
addition of organic matter is the main way to achieve a healthy soil because organic matter
is the soil component mainly responsible for the good traits of a healthy soil.

(iii) The importance of soil organic matter
Cotton prefers fertile soils with good water holding capacity and sufficient nutrient supply.
On many conventional farms, the continuous application of chemical fertilizers has led to a
loss of soil fertility. This is mainly due to insufficient organic matter – the material that
remains in the soil after decomposition of plant and animal matter. The application of
nitrogen fertilizer accelerates the decomposition of organic matter.
Organic matter has a very crucial significance for soil fertility improvement;
      • It ensures a soft and loose soil with good porosity and thus good infiltration of
      • The organic matter particles act like tiny sponges, thus keeping the soil moist for a
         longer time.
      • Organic matter takes up and releases nutrients so that they are available to the crop.
      • Organic material feeds and hosts a huge number of beneficial soil organisms, such
         as earth worms and microbes, which continuously work toward improving soil

         It must be realised that most deficiencies in the soil are directly linked to
         low organic matter content. Therefore the first action to remedy soil
         deficiencies is by increasing the organic matter content.

It has been discovered that for every 1% of organic matter in the top 30cm of soil there is
between 22.6 and 55.8kg of N/ ha available to plants (Nichols and Green, Cottoninc. 2006).
So if the farmer concentrates on improving and maintaining the organic matter content of the
soil, then he or she will not have to worry so much about crop nutrition.

Figure 1: The importance of organic matter for soil fertility

                          Why organic matter is so important

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                                                              Organic Cotton Training Manual

To get a good, stable yield it is important that organic farmers ensure a continuous supply of
organic material to the soil – not only for cotton! The most important sources of organic
matter are the residues of the crops grown on the field itself (leaves, stalks, roots etc.).
Therefore, balanced crop rotation, intercropping, and mulching are the most efficient ways
to enhance soil fertility. This is complemented by the application of farmyard/kraal manure,
compost and organic manures such as oil cakes, etc. The correct amounts of manure and
compost are covered in the crop nutrition chapter, as there is a danger of applying too much
manure to the soil.

(iv) Crop rotations
It is important that organic cotton is grown in rotation with other crops. This helps to
improve and maintain soil fertility and ensures balanced nutrients in the soil. If cotton is
grown continually on the same field, yields are likely to decrease. Crop rotation and mixed
cropping also help prevent build-up of pest populations, diseases and weeds. Pests find it
more difficult to move from one host plant to another, and they are controlled by a number
of beneficial insects hosted by the rotation crops or intercrops. Crop diversity reduces a
farmer’s risk, making farmers less vulnerable to crop failure and to fluctuating prices. Crop
diversity also contributes to better food security of the farm family and the region. Further, it
helps prevent a shortage of labour in peak seasons, as labour requirements are more evenly
distributed throughout the year. In Zambia the cotton crop must be destroyed by September
by law for the very reason of preventing pest and disease carry over. On organic farms,
cotton should not be grown in fields where the previous year’s crop was cotton (no ‘cotton
after cotton’). The reason is that if cotton is grown year after year in the same field, the soil
nutrients get depleted, pest populations increase and there is a risk for soil-borne diseases. At
least for one year, but preferably for three or four years, other crops should be grown
between two cotton crops.

(v) The Importance of Rotations in the organic system
It is preferable that the organic farmer has a minimum of 10 fields on his or her farm and
grows at least 5 different crops each season. This will allow him or her to enhance bio-
diversity on the farm. Similar crops should not be grown in adjoining fields so as to reduce
the risk of pest and disease transfer, for example Irish potato and tomato. Another concept
that the organic farmer should recognize is that the soil is like a bank; some crops deposit
nutrients (e.g., green manures) whilst other crops withdraw nutrients (e.g., maize, cotton).
The farmer should always strive to maintain his or her soil nutrient balance on the positive
side and not to allow his or her soil to become “overdrawn”. Careful planning of rotations
and looking at a diversity of crops can achieve this.

(vi) Managing the whole farm organically
Cotton is grown in rotation with a number of food crops that also need to be managed
organically, if the farm is to be certified organic. Organic cotton farmers should make sure
they have sufficient area under cultivation of other crops especially pulses, to keep the soil
fertile and to reduce pest proliferation.
Recommended rotation for Zambian farmers is: -
Year 1 - Legume or Green manure (see list of suitable crops in appendix 1)
Year 2 - Cereal food crop, e.g., Maize/Sorghum/Millet.
Year 3 - Legume or Green manure
Year 4 - Cotton

The following diagram shows a simple farm plan showing how the farmer can rotate the
crops around the farm to allow a diversity of crops and a pest and disease break for each of
the different crops.

       Figure 2 Simple Farm Map

                                    Field 2                       Field 3
          Field 1                   Velvet Beans                  Maize

            Field 4                  Field 5                   Field 6
            Groundnuts               Sunnhemp                  Sunflower

             Field 7                Field 8
             Maize                  Lablab                     Farmers housing

              Field 9              Field 10
              Cotton               Soya Beans

Intercrops are crops of a different species to the main crop grown in the same field to assist
in the pest and disease management and in some cases to fertilise the main crop.
(i) Effects of intercropping on diseases.
With few exceptions, crops that are grown with intercrops will suffer less disease attack than
a pure crop with the same over-all density and stand. This is because the densities of
susceptible plants are lower hence the amounts of potential disease causing organisms are
also lower.
(ii) Effects of intercropping on weeds.
Most crop combinations suppress weed growth by providing an early ground cover.
(iii) Decoy Crops and Trap Crops and their role in attracting beneficial insects.
These are plants that can be sown or planted in the field alongside with cotton and which can
attract pests away from the cotton. Pests will gather on them and they can be more easily
controlled. The population of the beneficial insects will increase because of the concentrated
pest population (their food) and secondly they will also be attracted by certain flowering
plants for nectar on which many adult beneficials depend for food.
Decoy crops are crops that will activate the adult to lay eggs but the larvae, when hatched,
have difficulty finding food. An example could be sesame intercropped with cotton. The
moth of the pink bollworm will lay eggs on sesame but the larva will find no food and
eventually will die from hunger. Another example is sweet sorghum planted amid cotton.
Cotton bollworm adults prefer to lay eggs on the sweet sorghum rather than on cotton.
Some cotton pests prefer crops like maize, sweet sorghum, cow peas, sunflower, pigeon pea,
and okra to cotton. These crops can be grown along with cotton as trap crops, so that the
cotton crop is spared. Experience from Tanzania and Zambia shows that sunflower is an
efficient trap crop for the American bollworm, the bollworms being attracted to the flower
heads. The sunflower is sown together or shortly after the cotton so that it starts flowering
when the American bollworm attack begins. The flowering plant attracts a number of
beneficial insects and birds. The sunflower seeds provide additional income to the farmers,
and the plants can be used as fodder.
Using sunflower as a trap crop for American bollworm has the following advantages
compared to maize and sorghum:
      • Attractive to the moths for a longer period, especially varieties which produce
         several flowers;
      • Attracts beneficial insects when flowering;
      • The productivity of the sunflower is hardly affected by the bollworms.
      • Birds are attracted to the seed heads and some of these also predate on bollworm and
         other caterpillars.
Maize, sweet sorghum and okra can also be used as trap crops. Some Indian farmers report
that they had good success with intercropping marigold as a trap crop for American
bollworm. Marigold also attracts beneficial insects and helps to control nematodes. Cowpeas
are used as a trap crop to attract aphids away from the cotton crop, as they are more
attractive than the cotton. Also the predators of aphids will be attracted and so help control
the population. Cowpeas also have the benefit of fixing nitrogen, attracting ants to the field,
which will predate on bollworms, are consumed by humans and are a livestock feed.

Table 2 Useful inter-plants
      Inter-plants                  Main Action                      Secondary Action
         Maize              Attracts American bollworm                Pink Bollworm
     Sweet sorghum               Attracts bollworm
       Sunflower             Attracts beneficial insects,       Attracts birds for controlling
                                e.g., parasitic wasps       caterpillars and bees for pollination,
                                                                  trap crop for bollworms
          Okra                 Attracts cotton stainer       Same family as cotton so attracts
                                                                      many similar pests
        Mustard               Attracts beneficial insects            Attracts flea beetles
        Cowpeas                    Attracts aphids          Attracts looping caterpillar adults to
                                                                    lay eggs, attracts ants
     Sonchus species               Attracts aphids            Lady bird beetles feed on aphids
       (Milk weed)
        Marigold                 Attracts aphids and         Flowers attract beneficial insects
                                     nematodes                 Some varieties repel aphids
         Sesame                Attracts pink bollworm
        Coriander             Flowers attract beneficial        Aroma can act as a repellent
           Dill               Flowers attract beneficial        Aroma can act as a repellent
         Fennel               Flowers attract beneficial        Aroma can act as a repellent

The timing of planting the inter-plants is dealt with in the cotton planting calendar,
Appendix 3. This is a critical aspect of growing organic cotton, as the inter-plants have
to be at the correct growth stage in relation to the growth stage of the cotton to achieve
the full benefit from them. Successful pest and disease control strategies rely on this
proper timing.

Inter-plants will also provide a small income for the farmer from the same cotton field so the
area planted to inter-plants will not be unproductive. In any case, the inter-plants will be a
critical part of the success of the cotton crop. A sample income from the inter-plants is
included in Appendix 5.

(iv) Permanent Hedgerows
These, as the name suggests, are permanent plantings around the farm and the field
boundaries. These are multifunctional and are of importance to the organic farmer for many
    1. Acting as a windbreak or buffer zone to protect the farm from chemical spray drift if
       the neighbouring farm is conventional.
    2. Providing a habitat for beneficial insects and other predators and parasites of pests.
    3. To act as a source of biomass and compost-making material.
    4. Some leguminous trees will fertilize the soil close to the hedgerow (e.g. Faidherbia
    5. To make a living fence, to protect the crops from wandering livestock, e.g., goats.
    6. To provide a source of material for some natural pesticides.
    7. To help prevent soil erosion especially in hilly or windy areas.

The permanent hedgerows should consist of a variety of tree and shrub species as the
backbone of the hedge. It is important that there is diversity in the planting. Fruit and
firewood species can be included as well as leguminous trees.
On either side of the main trees, smaller shrubs can be grown. Annual plantings of other
useful inter-plants can be included depending on the crop being grown in the field adjacent
to the hedge. Farmers should investigate which indigenous plants will be useful for this
purpose, as this will make managing the hedgerow easier than trying to grow just exotic
species, as these may be better suited to the local climatic conditions. Managing the
hedgerow is an important aspect that should not be overlooked. Hedgerows should be a help
to the farmer and should increase yields. Allowing trees to grow too tall and cause shading
should not be allowed. Weeding should be carried out regularly so invasive weed species are
not allowed to dominate and bio-diversity should be maintained. Remember cuttings from
hedgerows can be used for compost making and for biomass transfer if the correct species
are chosen, and they can also be used as a feed source for livestock.

(i) Methods of increasing yield (The five-finger approach)

At this stage it is best to introduce the concept of maximising yield in the cotton crop. Since
cotton is a low value crop, maximum returns are achieved by producing maximum yields.
The following have been identified as means of achieving maximum yields:
     • Correct land preparation methods.
     • Early planting.
     • Adequate plant population.
     • Correctly timed weeding.
     • Good pest management.

As can be seen from the above list, four out of the five elements of increasing yields are
covered in the area of crop establishment, so it can be seen how important this aspect of crop
production is in maximising the yield and consequently the profit obtained from the crop.
Early planting will be achieved if all cultivation has been carried out as specified below.
Timely cultivation will allow the farmer to take advantage of planting with the first rains and
by doing so maximise the potential yield by giving the crop a longer growing season.

(ii) Land preparation
(Five finger approach No. 1)
The first decision the farmer has to make is which system of cultivation he or she should
use. In organic farming, minimum cultivation systems are recommended: -
1. Using the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) basin system. (1)
2. Making ripper lines using the magoye ripper.
Both these techniques should be carried out as soon as the legume crop preceding the cotton
crop has been harvested. This will allow easier digging and ripping, as some soil moisture
will still be present.
Marking out the field prior to carrying out this operation is also important as the farmer will
have to decide on the spacing of the cotton plants and the spacing of inter-plants growing in
the field. A sample field design is shown in Figure 3.
The spacing used in the field design is 1 m between cotton rows and within the rows is
0.25m. This differs slightly from the recommended 0.9 m between rows and 0.3 m within
the row, but still allows the farmer to maintain a plant population of 70,400 plants per
hectare if two plants are maintained per station. This extra width between rows allows for
easier access for fieldwork.
The farmer must remember that the field layout should allow for the contours of the land.
Crop rows should always go across the slope to prevent erosion.
   For more details of this method of land preparation refer to the Conservation Farming Handbook
for Hoe Farmers in Agro Ecological Regions I and II. This is available from the Zambian National
Farmers Union (ZNFU) or from the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU).

Figure 3 Sample Field Design for 1 Lima (0.25ha) of Organic Cotton

                                       SUNNHEMP BOUNDARY

S                             I                        I                         I                       I      S
U    I                        N                        N                                                 N      U
     N                                                                           N
N                             T                        T                         T                       T      N
N    T                        E                        E                                                 E      N
     E                                                                           E
H                             R                        R                         R                       R      H
E    R       11 Rows          P       11 Rows          P        11 Rows                  11 Rows         P      E
     P                                                                           P
M             Cotton          L        Cotton          L         Cotton          L        Cotton         L      M
P    L                        A                        A                                                 A      P
     A                                                                           A
                              N                        N                         N                       N
     N                        T                        T                                                 T
     T                                                                           T
                              S                        S                         S                       S


The Sunnhemp boundary is outside the 1 lima (0.25ha.) of cotton and can be 1 m to 5m wide depending on
wind direction. The wider block of Sunnhemp should be on the prevailing wind side of the field.
The cotton rows are spaced at 1m apart with the first row planted 0.5m from the interplant strip.
The side strips of inter-plants are 0.75m wide and the strips of inter-plants within the field are 1.5m wide.

(iv) Sowing
(Five Finger approach No. 2)
Time of Planting
Timing of planting is critical in achieving maximum yields. In Zambia it is recommended
that farmers plant with the first good rains (after 5 good soaking rains). This would normally
mean in the middle of November. Alternatively, a farmer may dry plant a small portion of
the field if he or she is confident that he or she can replant the area if there is a prolonged
dry spell. Dry planting the whole field would be too much of a gamble.

 The nitrogen flush
 When the first rains start there is a nitrogen flush into the soil of released nitrogen,
 which has been accumulated in the air during the dry season. A crop planted at the
 onset of the rains can utilise most of this nitrogen. This is an important reason for
 the more vigorous growth of early-planted crops. The later planted crops will miss
 out on this opportunity of getting free fertiliser.


The ideal spacing is a row spacing of 90cm to 1m and a plant spacing of 25cm-30cm. within
the row.
Using the basin system
Farmers using the CFU basin system will be limited in their spacing by the basins but seeds
should be planted in groups of 4-6 seeds at each end of the basin. Basin length will be 30cm
and the basins will be 40cm apart.
Using ripper lines
The seed should be planted in groups of 4-6 seeds, 25-30cm apart along the ripper line.
In both cases the initial compost or manure will have been applied to the ripper line or basin
2 to 4 weeks prior to sowing the seed (see chapter 5 on crop nutrition for the recommended
Sow the cotton seeds at a depth of 1- 2cm and cover them with fine soil. This protects the
germinating seed so it won’t dry out. Depending on the seed quality, 4 to 6 seeds are sown
per spot. Seed should be re-sown in gaps where the seeds did not germinate or the seedlings
have been destroyed, within 2 weeks after emergence of the young cotton plants. Seeds
sown later will not produce much as they are shaded out by neighbouring plants. Therefore,
it is better to fill these later gaps with trap crops such as sunflower, maize or okra.

(v) Thinning
(Five Finger approach No. 3)
Seven to fourteen days after emergence, remove weaker seedlings so that there are only two
plants in each spot. If thinning is done too early, the seedlings could still die off; if it is done
too late there is competition among plants and chance of root damage when the seedlings are
pulled out.

(vi) Weed Management
(Five Finger approach No. 4)
Timely weeding has a higher impact on increasing cotton yield than fertilization or pest
control. Most important for successful weed management in cotton are proper crop rotation
and timely soil cultivation. However, this does not mean that the cotton fields need to be
kept free of weeds throughout the season. In the initial stage of crop growth, weeds take up
nutrients which otherwise would be lost through leaching. These nutrients are returned to the
soil and made available to the cotton crop when the weeds are cut and left to decompose.
Once the cotton crop has developed a dense stand, weeds usually will remain below a level
where they significantly compete with the main crop.
Some weeds are important hosts for beneficial insects, or act as trap crops, detracting pests
from the cotton plant. Careful observation of weed populations and the use of shallow soil
cultivation (hoes, weeders), combined with selective hand weeding, usually allow the
experienced organic cotton farmer to ‘keep on good terms’ with weeds. To prevent the
spreading of weed seeds through compost, it is important that composts containing weed
seeds go through a heat phase, which destroys the seeds’ ability to germinate.
While weed populations may increase during the conversion period, especially when
switching from herbicides to mechanical weed management, weeds do not usually constitute
a major problem in organic cotton farming once proper crop rotation is established. Organic
farmers in India report that weeding became even less laborious after conversion to organic
farming as the soil got softer, which made it easier to pull out weeds.

The importance of timely weeding cannot be overemphasised, as weed competition is one of
the major contributing factors in yield loss.
In dry years yield loss due to weed competition can be 3% per day or 21% in one week.
(Source CFU).

It is recommended that the farmer should first remove the weeds within the row, that is, the
weeds growing between the plants. At the first weeding this might have to be done by hand
as well as with a hoe to avoid damaging the young cotton plants. Weeds can then be
removed in the rows using an animal drawn cultivator, hand weeder or a hoe. Using this
system the farmer will achieve much faster and efficient weed removal.
The timing of the first weeding is most critical in achieving a good cotton crop, for if the
weeding is left too late the weeds will benefit from the basal dressing of manure or compost
and will prevent the young cotton plants from establishing properly. For this reason it is
important that the first weeding is done when weeds reach 4-5cm in height and not left any
later. If weeding is delayed it will make the job harder as weeds will be stronger and bigger
and will be difficult to remove. The job will therefore take longer, and if any hired labour is
used it will cost the farmer more money, further reducing profits as well as reducing
potential yield. The number of times a farmer has to weed cannot be stated as this will
depend on the weed population in a particular field and type of weed (whether perennial or
annual) and also the previous cropping and weather conditions in the growing season.
Generally the farmer will have to weed 3 times before the cotton plants become big enough
to compete favourably with the weeds. As mentioned earlier on, the farmer in an organic
system does not have to remove all the weeds if they are not posing a threat to the crop. If
weeds are not competing for nutrients and are not harbouring pests they pose no threat. It
must also be remembered that the cut weeds will act as a mulch and when decomposing will
return some nutrients back to the soil further assisting the crop. Some weeds such as
stoloniferous grasses and weeds with seeds should be removed from the field if possible to
prevent growth; this material, however, should not be wasted but used for compost making.
For a rough guide to the timing of weeding, guidelines have been put in the crop calendar
appendix 3, to show at which growth stage the weeding will be important.

(i) Nutrient requirements of cotton
Crop rotation and intercropping with legumes, recycling of crop residues and the application
of farm-produced organic manure (kraal manure and compost) need to form the basis of
nutrient management in organic cotton farming. Organic farmers should not try to copy
conventional fertilizer application schemes by substituting NPK-fertilizers with organic
manures. It is very important that above all they preserve the nutrients that are already
available in the soil and on the farm by preventing soil erosion, using all available crop
residues and organic wastes, not burning crop residues or cow dung.
Like other crops, cotton requires the full range of nutrients in a well-balanced composition.
The cotton plant requires two-thirds (2/3) of these nutrients during the first two months of its
growth. To ensure sufficient nutrient supply (especially of nitrogen) during this phase, it is
recommended that a basal dose of well-decomposed compost or kraal manure be applied at
the start of the growing season. This is complemented with applications of well rotted
manure, compost extract or leaf teas. The specific quantities are listed in the nutrition table
and in the crop calendar appendix 3.
Nitrogen (N) is the nutritional element that is required in the greatest amounts by most
cultivated crops. It is used in the plant to form proteins, chlorophyll, protoplasm and
enzymes. In cotton, N is needed for overall growth. Adequate amounts are needed to obtain
desired yields. A harvest of 1000 kg seed cotton extracts approximately 72 kg nitrogen (N),
28 kg phosphate (P2O5) and 30 kg potassium (K2O) equivalents. Parts of these nutrients may
be replaced through nitrogen fixation by legumes (N) and through weathering of minerals (P
and K). Potassium is the element in great demand by the cotton plant during boll formation.
Yield and fibre quality are determined by potassium. The critical period for potassium
uptake is during flowering, about two to three months after planting. This is why
applications of compost and leaf teas are important prior to and during this time, as these
liquid manures will have a higher concentration of potassium than plain manure tea.

(ii) Uptake of nutrients
In organically managed soils, the crops depend mainly on the nutrients supplied by minerals
and by the organic matter in the soil. They take up, store and release nutrients (through
exchange, weathering, and decomposition). Soil organisms play a vital role in this process
and should be supported through careful soil cultivation and regular application of organic
matter. Measures to improve overall soil fertility (microbial activity, structure, moisture
retention) are more likely to result in increased yields than merely applying fertilizers.
The most widespread nutrient deficiencies in tropical cotton fields are in nitrogen,
phosphorus, sulphur, zinc and boron. Soil tests have their limitations in providing useful
information on nutrient deficiencies, as they only measure the easily available nutrients. The
availability of nutrients to the crop, however, depends on a number of factors such as the
activity of soil microorganisms, the root system of the crop, and the water content in the soil.
Nutrient uptake can be hindered by water-logging, (the roots then lack air) and dryness
(there is no nutrient uptake without water). Excess nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium also
disturb the uptake of other nutrients like calcium, magnesium and micronutrients. In the case
of the cotton crop showing deficiency symptoms, it is not always necessary to apply
additional manure or fertilizers. It may be more efficient to stimulate microbial activity and
to overcome the inhibiting factors, e.g. through soil cultivation, irrigation, incorporation of
biomass, and application of Effective Microorganisms (cf .to page 23 for explanation).

 Nitrogen immobilization
 In the first two months of growth, the cotton crop may be short of nitrogen because micro-
 organisms use the nitrogen in the soil for the decomposition of carbon-rich (strong or thick)
 organic material. As a result, the leaves of the cotton plants look yellowish, growth is
 stunted and overall crop development is slow. This phenomenon known as ‘temporary
 nitrogen immobilization’ may occur when strong or thick crop residues or manures (e.g.,
 straw-rich farmyard or kraal manure) are present in the soil. To decompose this material,
 microbes require nitrogen, which is not available to the crop for a certain period of time. To
 avoid this situation, collect the strong or thick crop residues before ploughing the fields and
 prepare compost out of them. Compost should be kept moist and should be turned at least
 twice so that it decomposes well. It should be applied to the field early in the season so that
 the decomposition has already started when the cotton is sown. At the time of sowing,
 nitrogen-rich manures such as oil cakes can be applied to prevent this problem. Oil cakes
 take 1 - 3 weeks until they release nitrogen through decomposition. Soil cultivations
 (cultural operations) speed up the decomposition of organic matter and thus increase
 nutrient supply to the crop.

(iii) Application of manures and fertilizers
Suitable application doses of nutrients in organic cotton depend on the soil condition, the
previous crop, and the expected yield. Table 3 shows the nutrient quantities recommended
for organic cotton for soils of average fertility cultivated with high-yield varieties. A
considerable portion of the required nutrients, however, can be supplied through
decomposing residues of the previous crop and through nitrogen fixation by leguminous
Table 3 Recommended nutrient doses in average organic cotton fields, to be adapted to
local conditions
Nutrient                   Required amount       Possible sources
Nitrogen (N)               100–120 kg/ha         Residues from previous crop, nitrogen fixation
                                                 through pulses, compost, vermi-compost, kraal
                                                 manure, liquid manures, teas
Phosphorous (P2O5)         50–60 kg/ha           Residues from previous crop, compost, kraal
                                                 manure, rock phosphate, wood ash, teas.
Potassium (K2O)            40–50 kg/ha           Residues from previous crop, compost, kraal
                                                 manure, muriate of potash, wood ash, teas
                                                 especially comfrey and compost.

Farmers can achieve the desired nutrient input through the following steps (in order of
    • Practise crop rotation, and grow leguminous crops (e.g., pulses) as intercrops or as
         green manures;
    • Use all biomass available on the farm (do not burn crop residues or cow dung); mix
         wood ash into the compost heap;
    • Use whatever biomass is cheaply available nearby (e.g., weeds, leaves, agricultural
         processing wastes);
    • Application of well rotted manure/compost/leaf teas.

 Organic manures such as compost and straw rich cattle dung contain the full range
 of nutrients including micronutrients in a balanced composition. Thus, where
 organic manures are applied in sufficient quantity, usually there is no deficiency of

The following table proposes a nutrient management plan for cotton for achieving the
recommended nutrient input. However, this should only be a rough guideline and needs to
be adapted to the specific conditions of each farm and field.

Table 4 Recommended nutrient management plan for organic cotton
Manure or measure        Recommended quantity                              Comments
                         per hectare
Crop rotation            Preferably grow cotton on plots where the         The cotton crop benefits from the high
                         previous crop was a legume or green               nutrient level of the previous crop.
Green manure /           If possible, grow leguminous crops (e.g.          Leguminous crops increase the nitrogen
intercrop                pulses) as intercrop or as a green manure.        content in the soil by fixing it from the
Manure or compost        Initial application: 10 tons/ha cow dung, or      Compost and cow dung should be well
                         10 tons/ha compost                                decomposed. The quantity can be
                         Top dressing (decomposed compost),                reduced if the previous crop was a pulse
                          3 weeks after sowing: 1.5 - 2.5 tons/ha          or if pulses are grown as green manure
                                                                           or an intercrop.
Rock phosphate           50–70 kg per ha, application together with        Mix into the compost when setting up
                         the compost.                                      the heap; do not apply it directly to the
                                                                           soil. Increase the quantity to 100 kg in
                                                                           case of P-deficiency (soil test).
Foliar application of    Start 4 weeks after germination of the cotton     Strengthens and nourishes the plant,
vermi-wash, diluted      until the first bolls open, every 2 to 3 weeks:   deters pests.
biogas slurry or         one litre cow urine or vermi-wash in 10
diluted cow urine        litres water.
Leaf/well rotted         Start 1 week after germination and continue       Drench on plant and soil. Only apply
manure teas/compost      weekly till mid January. Change from well         after rains and do not dry drench.
extract                  rotted manure tea to compost tea or comfrey       Changing tea type is to ensure the plant
                         tea after 1 month. 300 l/ha. For each             does not receive too much nitrogen.
                         application.                                      Avoid leaves when drenching with
                                                                           chicken manure.

Caution: A too-high supply of nitrogen-rich manures can cause:
    •   Strong vegetative growth of cotton (many leaves instead of bolls);
    •   Increased shedding of square buds;
    •   Plants become more attractive to sucking pests like aphids, whitefly and jassids;
    •   Potentially lower yields!
(iv) Compost
Composting is the process of transforming organic material of plant or animal origin into
high-value organic compost in heaps or pits. Compared to uncontrolled decomposition of
organic material, decomposition through composting is faster; it heats up as part of the
process, which results in a product of higher quality especially in the provision of nutrients
and disease fighting microorganisms. If compost heaps are properly maintained, loss of
nutrients (especially nitrogen) can be kept low. Compost provides the crop with well-
balanced ‘food’ and helps to increase the soil organic matter content. Compost has both a
long-term and a short-term effect on plant nutrition as nutrients are continuously released
over a period of time.

There are two general types of composting: ‘continuously fed’ and ‘batch fed’ systems:
     • Batch fed systems: All material is set up at once. During the first few weeks after
         setting up the compost, the material gets very hot. Weed seeds, disease pathogens
         and pests are killed as a result of the high temperature. The process is fast (within a
         few weeks), fewer nutrients get lost, and the final material is of high quality.
     • Continuously fed systems: Material is added again and again. These systems do not
         heat up during the composting process. They are handy if there is a continuous
         supply of wastes (e.g., from cleaning the cow sheds). However, they lack the
         advantages of the heating phase and thus decompose less completely. Vermi-
         compost heaps is a good example of a continuously fed system.
The value of the compost very much depends on the material used, and on how well the
compost is set up and maintained. If the compost is too dry or too wet, a lot of nutrients
(especially nitrogen) get lost and the quality of the compost is low. Thus, proper set-up of
the compost and sufficient turning pays off.
(v) Setting up a compost heap or pit
Compost heaps are easier to build than pits, but they also dry out more easily. In pits,
however, there is a risk of water logging during the wet season. During the dry season, when
little water is available, composting in pits may be more appropriate than heaps since
humidity is conserved better. When setting up a compost heap or pit, the following points
should be kept in mind:
     • Location: The compost is ideally located near the source of the composting material
         and the fields to which the compost will be applied. The site should be shady and
         near a water source. Waterlogged sites should be avoided.
     • Timing: A compost heap should be set up when a lot of plant material is available,
         i.e., towards the end of the rainy season (fresh material, weeds) and after the harvest
         of the main crops (crop residues). If the farm does not supply enough plant material,
         it may be collected from outside sources.
     • Size: The compost heap should reach a size of at least 1 cubic metre to allow for the
         proper composting process. To allow sufficient aeration it should not be more than
         1.5 m wide and 1.5 m high.
Some materials that can be used for making compost:
        Crop residues: stalks and roots of cotton, maize, sorghum, straw etc.;
        Weeds from fields, field borders, fallow lands, etc. but not weeds in seed or the type
        that multiply from the root;
        Twigs from trees and shrubs, leaves;
        Fodder residues left by the animals after feeding;
        Cow dung and dung of other farm animals; (poultry, goat etc.);
        Biogas slurry;
        Kitchen waste;
        Comfrey leaves after juice has been extracted;
        Agricultural processing by-products like sugarcane trash, husks, cotton dust etc.;
        Take care that no plastic gets into the compost!
Other material can be added to the heap in order to improve the quality of the compost:
        Cow dung mixed with water, or biogas slurry for sprinkling on each layer;
        Anthill or clay soil which enables the compost to form aggregates and become stable;
        E.M. multi (cf. page 23);
        Rock phosphate;
        Wood ash.

For ideal composting, the mixture should consist of approximately:
• One-third sturdy and bulky material (chopped twigs, stalks, roots of maize and sorghum
• One-third medium-to-fine material rich in carbon (straw, dry leaves, left-over from
     fodder, dry weeds, etc.);
• One-third fine material rich in nitrogen (cow dung, dung of other animals, green leaves,
     kitchen waste, etc.).
How to build the compost heap
A compost heap should be built on bare soil and not on a hard surface such as concrete. This
is the recommended way to build a compost heap:
1. First make a base 30 centimeters (cm) high and 1.5 meters (m) wide with coarse plant
material such as twigs. This will ensure good air circulation and drainage.
2. Add a 10 cm layer of material that is difficult to decompose such as maize stalks, or other
dry material.
3. Add a 10 cm layer of material that is easily decomposed such as fruit and vegetable scraps
(green material).
4. Add 2 cm of animal manure, old compost or slurry, if available.
5. Add a sprinkling of earth from the top 10 cm of cropped land.
6. Rock phosphate, ash, urine or E.M. (cf. page 23) can then be lightly sprinkled onto these
layers, to accelerate the process of decomposition.
7. Then water the whole pile well.
8. Repeat all these layers except the first layer of coarse material, until the heap reaches 1 to
1.5 m high.
The heap should be covered to protect it against evaporation and heavy rain as this will wash
away all the nutrients. Sacking, grass thatch or banana leaves are suitable for this.
Each layer should be laid down by starting at the edge of the pile so that the heap does not
collapse. Another way to ensure this is to use a wire mesh (not useful in dry areas because it
will allow drying out) or wooden planks around the heap. Air vents, made out of bamboo
canes with holes cut in them and placed both vertically and horizontally throughout the
heap, will improve the air circulation.

   Note. The compost heap should be built up neatly and squarely and should not exceed
   1.5 m high. This will make it a manageable size for turning.

Ten to fourteen days after building up the compost heap, it will have decreased to about half
its original size. This is the right time to turn it for the first time. After another 1–2 weeks
the compost heap should be turned a second time. Turning the compost helps to accelerate
the process, and improves the quality of compost manure. It ensures that material from the
outside of the heap can decompose properly by being put into the centre. Turning should
then be carried out every one to two weeks. The compost should be ready after the fourth
turning, approximately two to three months after making the heap. The length of time will
depend on the amount of turning and if the heap has been watered sufficiently.

Earthworms are very good for transforming dead plant material into excellent manure. In
vermi-compost production, half-decomposed material and cow dung are continuously added
to the heap or pit. Thus, there is no heating phase, which would kill the worms. The excreta
of the worms have high nutrient levels and a growth-promoting effect on plants. During this
process some experienced farmers prepare ‘vermi-wash’: water is sprinkled over the heap or
pit, and the excess water is collected in a container beneath the heap.

The vermi-wash can be used as a liquid fertilizer and plant tonic. It can even help plants get
rid of sucking pests like aphids.
Earthworms are very sensitive to changes in moisture and temperature. They need a
continuous supply of food and protection from ants and termites. To remove the compost, let
the top of the heap dry out so that the worms move to the deeper layers. Though vermi-
compost is definitely high-quality organic manure, it requires more labour and continual
care compared to ordinary composting methods.

(vi) Organic manures
Crop rotation with legumes, use of organic manures and the recycling of organic matter
must form the basis of nutrient management in organic cotton production. Compost and
farmyard manure are important to improve and maintain soil fertility and to provide a base
supply of nutrients to the crop. However, during flowering and boll formation cotton has a
particularly high nutrient demand that usually cannot be fully satisfied with the available
amounts of compost and kraal manure. Thus it is recommended that additional organic
manures be provided during this phase, like de-oiled cakes (castor cake, neem cake), well
rotted poultry manure, goat and sheep manure, bone meal, food processing wastes, etc.
However, note that manures from intensive rearing (e.g., deep litter chicken rearing) are not
permitted unless composted according to most organic standards. Manures from caged
chickens i.e. factory farming, are not permitted at all under most organic standards.

Handling of cattle manure
The handling of the cattle manure during storage and application has enormous effects on its
quality and value. In particular, large quantities of nitrogen can be lost, but other nutrients
can also be leached out. Therefore, the following measures should be taken:
        At night, cattle should be kept in sheds or on places with sufficient bedding material
such as straw of maize or sorghum, cotton stalks, dry leaves, or empty maize cobs to absorb
the dung and urine.
        The manure should not become too wet or too dry. During storage, the manure heaps
should be protected from rain and sun.
        It is best to use the manure for composting together with plant material. The heaps or
pits should ideally be turned four times during this process.
        After application in the field, the manure should be incorporated into the soil as soon
as possible in order to prevent gaseous loss of nitrogen.

Adding bedding material in the cattle shed has the following benefits:
• Some of the bedding material serves as cattle feed;
• Nutrient losses are reduced;
• More organic manure can be produced;
• The quality of the organic manure is improved;
• Pests like stem borers in maize and sorghum stalks are destroyed.

Cattle grazing on fields after harvest
The transportation and application of farmyard manure or compost to the fields involves
quite a lot of labour. An easy way to apply manure to a field is to allow cattle to graze on it
after the harvesting is over. The cattle feed on the crop residues, and at the same time
fertilize the field with their dung. But of course the dung loses much of its nutrients with this
method as it becomes dry and is exposed to the sun.
Grazing livestock on harvested fields also helps to kill pests like stem borers and bollworms
living in stalks and unpicked pods.

(vii) Natural mineral fertilizers
Fertilizers based on minerals of natural origin (rock phosphate, muriate of potash, gypsum,
lime, etc.) are permitted in organic farming to a limited extent, but they should be applied
only when the soil is deficient in the respective nutrient (so soil testing required), and only in
addition to organic manures. Rock phosphate and ash can be added to the compost heap or
pit (as described earlier) or directly into the soil in the field. Three to six months should have
elapsed between applications of lime and rock phosphate on the same field.

Muriate of potash (potassium chloride KCl) is a natural salt containing 60% potassium
oxide (K2O). It should only be applied to the field when there is a deficiency of potassium in
the soil (so soil test required). High application doses can harm the beneficial soil organisms.
Oil seed crops such as cotton, soybean and groundnut require a lot of sulphur, which in some
fields can become deficient. In this situation, gypsum (which contains 17–20 % sulphur) can
be applied to the field at the rate of 50–100 kg per ha.

Lime is mainly applied to acidic soils. In Zambia in agro-ecological regions II and I many
soils that have been farmed for a long time will be found to be acidic. However cotton unlike
legumes is only likely to respond to lime if the soil pH is below 4.5, as cotton is not as
sensitive to acid soils as legumes are. The following table shows results of CFU cotton trials
from the 2001/2 growing season highlighting responses to lime.

Table 5 Cotton Response to Lime
   District        No. of Trials                           Result
  Chibombo              50                Average yield increase 112 kg/ha of cotton
                                              Return on investment in lime 54%
    Mumbwa                  50            Average yield increase 188 kg/ha of cotton
                                            Return on investment by liming 158%
 Monze/Choma                50            On average, lime was not financially viable.

If the farmer is following the recommended rotation it may be of more benefit for him or her
to lime the legume crop in the rotation. The cotton will also benefit from the residual effects
of this liming.

(viii) Liquid fertilizers
Liquid manures like cow urine, manure teas, compost extract, leaf teas and leaf juices can
provide part of the nutrients needed in the later growth stages of the crop. They are drenched
on the soil, applied with irrigation water, or diluted and sprayed as foliar fertilizer. Liquid
manures have the advantage that the nutrients are available almost instantly. Thus they can
be used to fine-tune nutrient supply. The following table provides some examples of liquid
manures used by organic cotton farmers.

Table 6 Liquid Manures
    Liquid      Preparation                               Application
 Cow urine      Collect cow urine. Mix 1 litre of         Spray the mixture on the cotton plants
                cow urine with 15 litres of water.        every two to three weeks during boll
                                                          formation (40 litres per ha).
                   Take 15-20 kg of manure, tie it in     Dilute 1:3 and apply a total of approx
 Manure tea        a piece of cloth or a sack and         800 l/ha.
                   suspend it in a drum of 210 litres     Dilution may vary depending on type
                   of water for 10–15 days, so that       of manure, e.g., poultry manure may
                   the water in the drum turns grey to    need more water than cow manure to
                   blackish. Keep drum covered. It is     avoid scorching the plants.
                   very important to stir the contents
                   in the drum vigorously once or
                   twice daily for aeration.
 Compost           Take 15-20 kg of compost in a          Dilute 1:3 and apply a total of approx
 extract           sack tie the sack and suspend in a     800 l/ha.
                   210 litre drum for 10-15 days.         Dilution may vary depending on
                   Keep drum covered. Stir daily.         quality of compost but application rate
                                                          will remain the same.
 Comfrey or        15-20 kg of Comfrey or other           Dilute 1:3 and apply a total of approx
 other leaf teas   plant leaves are placed in a sack as   800 l/ha.
                   above; this is left suspended in a     Dilution may vary depending on the
                   210 litres drum for 10-15 days.        leaf material.
                   Keep drum covered. Stir daily.
 Comfrey leaf      The juice is extracted by placing      Dilute 1-5 as this is a very
 juice             the leaves in a drum with a mesh       concentrated solution and so strong an
                   in the bottom third of the drum.       application may scorch the plant.
                   Leaves are replenished weekly          Apply a total of approx 800 lt. /ha.
                   and any residue is used for
                   compost making.
 Vermi-wash        Collect vermi-wash from vermi-         Spray the mixture at 2-to-3 week
                   compost heaps. Mix one litre of        intervals during boll formation.
                   vermi-wash with ten litres of

(ix) Bio-fertilizers
Bio-fertilizers contain beneficial microorganisms that increase the availability of nutrients.
Usually, organically managed soils that receive compost and other organic manures already
contain most of these beneficial microbes. The application of bio-fertilizers can further
increase their number and activity. When converting a farm from chemical to organic
farming, the application of bio-fertilizers can help to revive the soil. To find out whether a
specific bio-fertilizer has a real beneficial effect in the field, farmers can conduct a simple
plot trial, treating one part of a field while leaving the remaining part untreated.

Figure 4 Nitrogen Fixation by Leguminous Plants

           Nitrogen fixation through leguminous plants

                                          There is plenty of nitrogen in the air
                                           (78% nitrogen gas)
                                          Leguminous plants fix nitrogen
                                           from the air and make it available to
                                           the plant
                                          Examples: pigeon pea, soya bean,
                                           moong, cow pea, chick pea, daal
                                          The fixation is done by bacteria
                                           living in root nodules (Rhizobium
                                          The nitrogen fixed by the
                                           leguminous crop gets available to
                                           the associated or following crop
                                           (e.g. cotton)
                                          If a lot of fertilizer is available in the
                                           soil, legumes fix less nitrogen

                                                                  Organic Cotton Training Manual

The following are some micro organisms that are commercially sold as bio-fertilizers
   • Rhizobium is a bacterium hosted in the root nodules of pulses and other leguminous
       crops. It enables the crop to fix nitrogen from the air. It is recommended that seeds of
       legumes such as soyabean be inoculated with the appropriate rhizobium (available at
       a small cost from seed companies) to greatly improve the nitrogen fixation and
       thereby yield of the crop. It is important to ensure the rhizobium is not genetically
   • Azotobacter and Azospirillum can fix nitrogen in a similar manner as Rhizobium, but
       without being associated with the roots of a crop.
   • Phosphorus Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB), like Pseudomonas, help to make
       phosphorus that is bound to the mineral particles in the soil available to the crop.
   • Mycorrhiza (VAM) is a beneficial fungus associated with the roots of many plants. It
       helps them in taking up water and nutrients.

 (x) Effective Microorganisms or E.M
E.M. is a mixed culture of beneficial microorganisms that can be applied as an inoculant to
increase microbial diversity in soils. This in turn can improve the health and quality of the
soil, which in turn enhances the growth and quality of the crops. E.M. cultures do not
contain any genetically modified microorganisms. E.M. is made up of mixed cultures of
microbial species that are found naturally occurring in the environment.
E.M. products for use in agriculture are all derived from a stock E.M. solution and are listed
as follows:
    1. E.M. F.P.E. is used as a spray at a dilution of 1:500 up to 1:1000 as a plant spray and
        also as soil spray to suppress diseases.
    2. E.M. 3 in 1 is an insecticide spray and should only be used in conjunction with E.M.
        5, as it can be harmful to beneficial insects.

3. E.M. F.F. is a foliar feed and is sprayed at a dilution of 1:500.
4. E.M. F.C.M. is a good foliar feed and provides N and P to the plant quickly if there
   is insufficient available from the soil. It is sprayed on plants at a dilution of 1:500. It
   can also be used on soil at a dilution of 1:300 to inoculate the soil.
5. E.M.5 is used as an insect repellent on its own at a dilution of 1:500 or mixed with
   E.M. 3 in 1 50/50.
6. E.M. Bokashi is used as a soil improver applied at 2 tonnes/ha.
7. E.M. is a natural product that is allowed under organic regulations.

   (Five finger approach No. 5)
This is the fifth element of the five-finger approach to maximising yield as mentioned
earlier. It is a critical point to which we should pay much attention in cotton production;
otherwise work carried out earlier in establishing the crop will go to waste.
Poor control of pests and diseases drastically reduces yields. In this chapter the most
common pests and diseases will be dealt with.
(i) Diseases
The estimated crop losses due to diseases could range between 15-25%. The cotton diseases
are caused by pathogens, which may be fungi, bacteria, or viruses. In most of the semi-arid
tropical regions, diseases are not a big problem in organic cotton. Diseases that occasionally
occur and methods for preventing or treating them are given below.
a) Damping-off
Several pathogens cause damping-off whose symptoms are seed rot during germination, root
rot and collar rot of the young seedlings.
Seed–borne diseases.
Soil-borne diseases.
Poor water drainage of the soil.
Buying certified seed from a reputable seed company.
Crop rotation - normally cotton should follow crops that are not susceptible to damping-off.
Applying compost.
Spraying with concentrated ash solution.
b) Black arm
It can be identified by black/brown (canker) lesions on cotton plant followed by desiccation
of the top part from the area of infestation.
This is the most destructive bacterial disease more especially if the crop is ratooned. On
bolls spots can also identify the disease; oily spots appear on bolls and turn them necrotic.
Bacteria affect plant cells restraining nutrient supply to the bolls. The affected bolls will
partially open and then die.
Damp weather. Sometimes it could be caused by squares holding water for long time.
Seed-borne diseases.
Ratooning of the crop.
Planting of new fresh seed.
Using baking soda (mix 150g in 1litre and then put in a 16litre knapsack sprayer and dilute)
Spraying of concentrated ash solution.
Remove infested plants/bolls to reduce pathogen dispersal to other cotton plants.
c) Fusarium wilt
This is general wilting of the plant, it occurs at any time during the cotton cycle. Fusarium
wilt is often related with root-knot nematodes and the application of fresh manure.
Soil-borne diseases.
Applying of un-decomposed kraal manure.
Poor soil fertility.

Planting of new and fresh seeds.
Improve the water drainage.
Crop rotation with green manures that leave large volume of biomass to improve soil
Apply well composted manure.
Remove the diseased plants.
Rotation with Red Sunnhemp can reduce soil nematodes.

d) Boll rot / Abortion
External rots: - are basically caused by bacteria (oily spots) or black arm, and they can be
identified by sunken necrotic areas with borders.
Internal Rot: –This normally cannot be detected by external symptoms and is mainly
attributed to contaminations entering through the cotton bolls’ natural openings.
Diseases: - Pathogens - Bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Insects: - Caterpillars
            - Bollworms
            - Thrips
            - Physical injuries (damage)
            - Aphids.
Usually it's not easy to control boll rot, more especially at the latent stage, but what should
be done is to identify the causes and work on those.
For viral, bacterial and fungal infections refer to Fusarium and Damping off.
For pest insects refer to the chapter on pest management.
Removing of infected plants and picking of pests.

(ii) Pest Control
A large number of pests feed on cotton such as caterpillars (e.g., bollworms), beetles, bugs,
aphids, jassids, whitefly, thrips, mites, etc. A healthy cotton plant has some means of
defence against pest attack. It compensates for affected shoots and leaves through additional
growth, and produces substances that deter insects from eating them (e.g., gossypol). In
conventional farming, cotton is considered a crop that is highly sensitive to pest attack.
Large quantities of chemical pesticides like organophosphates and pyrethroids are sprayed to
keep them under control. This, however, eventually results in the pest problem increasing, as
the natural enemies of many pests are decimated. First and foremost, organic cotton farming
tries to prevent pests from even becoming a problem. The best way to do this is to establish
a diverse and balanced farm ecosystem.
Good soil fertility and balanced nutrition (through compost and other organic manures)
support plant health. Farmers can optimise soil conditions through shallow soil cultivation
and careful, timely irrigation. Diverse cropping systems and natural habitats enhance control
of pest populations by means of natural enemies, like birds and beneficial insects.
Intercrops of pulses and trap crops like sunflower or maize distract pests from the cotton
plants. Some pests multiply faster if the same crop is grown on the same field year after
year. It is therefore important to rotate the different crops within the farm and not grow
cotton in fields that had cotton in the previous season.
Sucking pests (aphids, whitefly and mites) and some other small pests (especially thrips and
jassids) usually attack plants that are stressed. Stress can be caused by unbalanced nutrition
(too many or too few nutrients, especially nitrogen). Water shortage or water logging can

also cause stress. Just like humans or animals, plants also have a kind of immune system,
which usually enables them to fight an attack of sucking pests. In stress situations, this
immune system works less effectively. Therefore it is important to avoid stress situations for
the plant. This primarily means:
            • Neither too little nor too much manure (no ‘overfeeding’).
            • Shallow cultivation of the soil, (cultural operations) to encourage soil aeration
                and decomposition of organic matter.
With these preventive measures properly implemented, the pest problem in organic cotton is
surprisingly minor. A certain level of pest attack will not significantly reduce the cotton
yield. Below the 'economic threshold', the cost and effort to control the pest is higher than
the damage it causes. In this regard, one should take into account both the cost of applying
the natural pesticide and the labour for fetching water and for spraying.

 As long as pest infestations remain below the threshold levels, farmers should
 wait and see whether the natural enemies are able to control the pests, which
 would result in negligible damage to the crop.

Figure 5 Growth Stages at Which Different Pests Attack Cotton

               1 Spider mite
               2 Red bollworm
               3 American bollworm
               4 Cotton Stainer
               5 Aphids
               6 Jassids

           5      6                  2        1            4
           3 weeks       6 weeks      9 weeks     12 weeks 15 weeks      18 weeks
  Height 2cm            50cm         70cm                  120cm     150cm
  Seedling                   first buds first flowers green bolls open bolls
  Other pests

  Grasshopper Looper


iii) Important cotton pests and their management
Knowing the major cotton pests helps farmers to find the right strategy for managing them.
The descriptions of the insects are adapted from PAN's Pest Management Information

Table 7 Bollworms and other caterpillars
American Bollworm (Heliothis (or Helicoverpa) armigera)
              Other names:                   Cotton bollworm;
              Significance:                  Major pest in cotton
              Damage:                        Attacks buds in square stage, flower and boll.
                 Natural enemies:                    Assassin bugs, predatory beetles, ants, lacewing larvae, spiders,
                                                     parasitic wasps (e.g. Trichogramma), parasitic flies, praying
Life cycle: The young larva feeds on tender leaves, buds, flowers, and later bores into the bolls. While feeding, its
head and part of the body are inside the boll. They deposit faeces at the base of the entrance hole. Eggs are
pinhead-size and yellowish-green in colour. They are found singly laid on the surface of the leaves. Larvae vary in
colour from bright green, pink and brown, to black, with lighter undersides. Alternating light and dark bands run
lengthwise along their bodies, the heads are yellow and the legs are almost black. Mature larvae drop to the ground
to burrow into the soil to pupate. Pupae are yellowish-green and turn brown as they mature. Adult moths are grey
to brown in colour and have dark spots on the front wings. They are active at night and hide in vegetation during
the day. The total development period from egg to adult is 34–45 days.
Prevention:                                          Direct control:
 •        Crop rotation                               •        Bt spray, NPV spray
 •        Trap crops: sunflower, okra, maize,         •        Neem spray
          sweet sorghum                               •        Buttermilk spray
 •        Hand-picking of infested buds and           •        Trichogramma cards
          bolls                                       •        Garlic-chilli-onion repellent
 •        Encourage natural enemies (ladybird         •        Hand-picking of bollworm
         beetles, lacewings, spiders, hoverfly
 •        Removing cotton stalks
 •        Cattle grazing after picking is over
 •        Pheromone traps, light traps
Red Bollworm (Diaporopsis castanea)
                  Other names:                       Sudan Bollworm
                  Significance:                      Major pest in cotton
                  Damage:                            Attacks squares, bolls and flowers. Bolls are normally damaged
                                                     completely. Damaged bolls are vulnerable to boll rot fungal
                  Natural enemies:                   Assassin bugs, predatory beetles, ants, lacewing larvae, spiders,
                                                     parasitic wasps (e.g. Trichogramma), parasitic flies, praying
Life cycle: .The eggs are light blue and covered by tiny spines and ribs. The first instar caterpillar emerges about 1
week after egg laying and the caterpillar goes through five stages before pupation. The caterpillar moves down the
plant into the soil before pupating, some pupae will hatch within 2-3 weeks, within the same season whilst others
later on will remain dormant in the soil until the first rains of the new crop season.
Prevention:                                          Direct control:
 •        Crop rotation                               •        Bt spray, NPV spray
 •        Trap crops: sunflower, okra, maize,         •        Neem spray
     sweet sorghum, and sesame.                       •        Buttermilk spray
 •        Hand-picking of damaged capsules            •        Trichogramma cards
 •        Encourage natural enemies                   •        Garlic-chilli-onion repellent
 •        Removing cotton stalks                      •        Hand-picking of bollworm
 •        Cattle grazing after picking is over
 •        Pheromone traps, light traps


Spotted Bollworm (Earias vittella) and Spiny Bollworm (Earias insulana)
               Other names:
               Significance:                  Usually not a major problem in organic fields.
               Damage:                        Wilting of shoots, shedding of buds. Damaged bolls do not open
                 Natural enemies:                 Assassin bugs, predatory beetles, ants, lacewing larvae, spiders,
                                                  parasitic wasps (e.g. Trichogramma), parasitic flies, praying
Life cycle: Spotted bollworm larvae bore into the shoot of the cotton plant and also bore holes into the bolls.
Young bolls have small holes with excreta inside. Eggs are small, round and light blue-green in colour. The larvae
are spindle-shaped, greyish-brown or greenish in colour. The pupa is enclosed in a cocoon shaped like an inverted
boat. The forewings of the adult moth are silvery-green to straw yellow with three transverse lines of a darker
Prevention:                                       Direct control:
 •       Crop rotation                             •        Bt-spray, NPV spray
 •       Trap crops: sunflower, okra, maize,       •        Neem spray
          sweet sorghum                            •        Buttermilk spray
 •       Hand-picking of damaged capsules          •        Trichogramma cards
 •       Encourage natural enemies                 •        Garlic-chilli-onion repellent
 •       Removing cotton stalks                    •        Hand-picking of bollworm
 •       Cattle grazing after picking is over
 •       Pheromone traps, light traps
Cutworm (Agrotis spp.)
                 Other names:
                 Significance:                    In some fields an important pest.
                 Damage:                          Seedlings are often cut off at ground level.
                 Natural enemies:                 Parasitic wasps, ground beetle, birds, lacewing, praying mantis,
                                                  weaver ant
Life cycle: Cutworm larvae can be found in the soil (up to a depth of about 5 cm) near the plant host. They always
curl up when disturbed. Cutworms feed only at night. Eggs are tiny, pearl-white, round, and have a ridged surface.
The full-grown larvae are brown or brownish-black with a tinge of orange. The pupa is black or brown in colour.
The adult has dark brown forewings with distinctive black spots and white and yellow wavy stripes.
Prevention:                                      Direct control:
 •       Early soil cultivation                    •       Pyrethrum spray, Derris or thyme spray
 •       Apply neem cake or de-oiled castor        •       Cutworm baits with Bacillus thuringiensis
         cake before sowing                        •       Hand picking at night
 •       Remove weeds in and around fields         •       Bt spray at night
 •       Encourage birds (spread turmeric-         •       Botanical sprays (basil, chilli, neem, garlic)
         coloured rice, bird perches, trees,
 •       Promote natural enemies (spiders,
          ground beetles, lacewing, praying
 •       Intercrop with coriander (repellent)

Table 8 Sucking pests
Aphids (Aphis gossypii and others)
                  Other names:                       Cotton aphid; greenfly
                  Significance:                      Important pest in fields with low population of natural
                                                     enemies, high manure application, or water stress.
                    Damage:                          Heavy infestation causes crinkling and cupping of leaves,
                                                     defoliation, square and boll shedding, and stunted growth.
                                                     If the infestation is not too high, the plant can compensate
                                                     for the damage. Honeydew excretion causes sticky cotton
                                                     lint and thus problems with spinning.
                    Natural enemies:                 Ladybird beetles, ground beetles, lacewings, pirate bugs,
                                                     parasitic wasps, hoverfly larvae, spiders etc.

Life cycle: The mouths of the aphids are like tiny straws, with which they pierce the plant tissues to feed on
plant sap. Aphids produce large amounts of a sugary liquid waste called honeydew. A fungus, called sooty
mould, grows on this honeydew, turning leaves and branches black. The eggs are very tiny, shiny black, and
are found in the crevices of bud, stems, and bark of the plant. Winged adults are produced only when it is
necessary for the colony to migrate.

Prevention:                                          Direct control:
 •      Intercrop of sonchus, cowpeas, etc.           •       Neem spray
         (trap crops)                                 •       Botanical preparations (chilli, turmeric, tomato
 •      Avoid heavy manure application                   leaves, ginger, gliricidia, marigold, Soft soap spray
 •      Avoid water logging and water shortage        •       Cow urine spray
 •      Promote natural enemies (ladybird             •       Flour spray
         beetles, lacewing, hoverfly, damsel          •       Garlic-chilli-onion repellent
         bug, ground beetle, spiders etc.) by         •       Yellow sticky traps
        providing habitat and growing
        flowering plants
Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci and others)
                    Other names:
                    Significance:                     Becomes an important pest only when nitrogen level is
                     Damage:                          Attacks vegetative parts (sucking).
                     Natural enemies:                 Parasitic wasps, lacewing, ladybird beetles, spiders.
                                                      Predators play a role when densities of whitefly are low,
                                                      but cannot cope with high populations.
Life cycle: Whiteflies pierce and suck the sap in the leaves. This causes weakening and early wilting of the
plant resulting in reduced plant growth. Their feeding may also cause yellowing, drying, and premature
dropping of leaves that result in plant death. Like aphids, whitefly produces honeydews on which the black
fungus sooty moulds grow. Whitefly is the most important carrier of plant viruses that cause diseases. Tiny
white or brownish eggs are laid on the underside of leaves. Adults are about 1mm long with two pairs of white
wings and light yellow bodies.
Prevention:                                           Direct control:
 •       Encourage natural enemies (lacewing,           •       Neem spray
         lady bird beetles, spiders)                    •       Yellow sticky traps
 •       Ensure balanced crop nutrition                 •       Flour spray
 •       Avoid heavy manure application                 •       Soft soap spray
 •       Avoid water logging and water shortage
 •       Trap crop Nicotiana (flowering

Cotton stainer (Dysdercus spp.)
                  Other names:                         Red cotton bug, cotton stainer bug;
                  Significance:                        Usually not a major problem in organic fields unless
                                                       harvesting is delayed.
                     Damage:                           Sucks sap from flowers, buds, and bolls. If infestation is
                                                       high the bolls open insufficiently and the lint quality is
                                                       reduced (stains due to fungus infection).
                     Natural enemies:                  Parasitic wasps, spiders, assassin bugs (which look very
                                                       similar to the stainer)
Life cycle: Cotton stainer feed both on immature and mature seeds. When sucking, they transmit fungus on the
immature lint and seed, which later stain the lint with typical yellow colour, hence the name cotton stainer.
Heavy infestations on the seeds affect the crop mass, oil content, germination capacity of the seed and
marketability of the crop. Eggs are laid in the soil or under plant debris. Nymphs look similar to their adult
counterparts but without wings; they can only attack seeds in open bolls. The adult cotton stainer is a true bug
with piercing and sucking mouthparts; it can even suck on seeds in closed bolls. Their colours vary from bright
red to yellow to orange, depending on the species.
Prevention:                                            Direct control:
  •      Frequent soil cultivation to destroy the        •       Pyrethrum spray
     eggs (also along field borders)                     •       Botanical sprays (Neem, custard apple, garlic
  •      Encourage birds (spread turmeric-                 bulb, sweet flag, sweet basil, Derris species)
     coloured rice, bird perches, trees, hedges)         •       Grazing of chickens
     and spiders                                         •       Trapping with cotton seeds or baobab seeds and
  •      Avoid stand-over of cotton                         killing them on the spot
  •      Clean the cotton seed stores                    •       Hand picking
  •      Timely harvest
Spider mites (Tetranychus spp.)
                     Other names:
                     Significance:                     Usually a minor pest in organic cotton fields. Mainly
                                                       affects water-stressed plants
                     Damage:                           Sucks sap. Infested leaves may turn yellow, dry up, and
                                                       drop in a few weeks.
                     Natural enemies:                  Lacewing, pirate bugs, predatory mites, rove beetles,
                                                       predatory thrips
Life cycle: Generally, mites feed on the undersides of leaves. They use their sucking mouthparts to remove
plant saps. Heavy infestation will result in a fine, cobwebby appearance on the leaves. The adult is very tiny; it
looks like a moving dot. Note: Mites are not insects; they are related to spiders.

Prevention:                                          Direct control:
 •      Avoid water stress                            •       Buttermilk spray
 •      Encourage natural enemies                     •       Coriander seed spray
                                                      •       Flour spray
                                                      •       Soft soap spray
                                                      •       Milk spray (diluted milk with water 1:10)

Table 9 Other pests
Cotton jassid (Amrasca devastans, A. biguttula)
                 Other names:           Leafhopper;
                 Significance:          Significant damage only if in very high numbers.
                 Damage:                Attacks vegetative parts (sucking).
                   Natural enemies:           Ladybird beetles, lacewings. Jassids are an important food source
                                              for natural enemies that will contribute to the suppression of
                                              bollworms later in the season.
Life cycle: Jassids feed on the upper surfaces of leaves, resulting in small white circles. Low levels of damage
have little if any effect on the plant’s growth. Jassid damage typically occurs from the lower leaves and
progressively moves up to upper leaves.
Prevention:                                             Direct control:
 •        Intercrop of cow pea etc. (trap crops)         •       Neem spray
 •        Avoid heavy manure application
 •        Avoid water logging and water shortage
 •        Promote natural enemies (ladybird
     beetles, lacewing) by providing habitat and
     by growing flowering plants
Thrips (Thripidae, various spp.)
                     Other names:
                     Significance:            Important pest in some fields.
                     Damage:                  Tiny scars on leaves and fruit, stunted growth. Damaged leaves may
                                              become papery and distorted.
                   Natural enemies:        Lacewing larvae, pirate bugs, serphid

Life cycle: Thrips feed by rasping the surface of the leaves and sucking up the released plant sap. The egg is
very tiny and is impossible to see. The nymph is pale yellow in colour and does not have wings. The pupa has
short wing buds that are not functional. The adult has a small, slender body, yellowish to dark brown in colour,
with well-pronounced antennae. It can exist in two forms, winged or wingless.
Prevention:                                           Direct control:
 •        Balanced plant nutrition, not too much        •       Spray of wood ash solution
     nitrogen                                           •       Garlic extract spray
 •        Avoid water stress (shortage as well as       •       Neem spray
     water-logging)                                     •       Soft soap spray
 •        Trap crops (e.g. sunflower)                   •       Flour spray
 •        Encourage natural enemies (lacewing,
     minute pirate bug)
Grasshoppers (Locusta spp.; Schistocerca gragaria)
                    Other names:             Locust;
                    Significance:            Usually minor pests in organic cotton.
                    Damage:                  Especially affects young plants (leaves and stems).
Prevention:                                         Direct control:
 •      Soil cultivation to destroy eggs
 •      Trap crops                                    •      Pyrethrum spray
 •      Legume intercrop
Termites (various species)
                   Other names:
                   Significance:           Usually a minor pest in organic cotton.
                   Damage:                 Attacking the root system.
Prevention:                                         Direct control:
 •      Crop rotation
 •      Soil cultivation                              •      Salt (attention: risk of soil salinity)
 •      Neem cake application                         •      Flood irrigation

Root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.)
                   Other names:           Root knot eelworm;
                   Significance:          Usually a minor pest.
                   Damage:                Feeds within the root system (forming knots), affecting nutrient
                                          uptake and plant growth, especially of seedlings. Secondary
                                          infection of fungus and bacteria.
Prevention:                                        Direct control:
 •      Crop rotation and intercrops marigold        •      Application of neem cake to the soil
    and Sunnhemp.                                    •      Botanical sprays: garlic extract, basil extract,
 •      Fallowing                                       fermented marigold extract
 •      Intercrop of or mulching with marigold
 •      Soil cultivation, deep ploughing
 •      Remove weeds
 •      Application of well-decomposed

 Table 10 A Table of Beneficial Insects

   Farmers’          Useful Stage         Pest Preyed         Predator or         Interplants to
    Friend                                   Upon              Parasitoid       Attract Farmers’
Lady Bird Beetle    Adult & Larvae           Aphid              Predator         Flowering plants
                                                                                and trap crops such
                                                                                    as sonchus
   Lacewing             Larvae               Aphid              Predator         Flowering Plants,
                                                                                 Mustard, Fennel,
   Hover-fly            Larvae               Aphid              Predator         Flowering Plants,
 Assassin Bug           Adult            Cotton Stainer         Predator         Trap Crops, Okra
Predatory Mites        Adult &          Red Spider Mite         Predator         Trap crops & the
                       Nymph                                                        main Crop
Parasitic Wasps     Adult & Larvae          Aphids,            Parasitoid        Flowering plants,
                                         Bollworms,                             Fennel, Coriander,
                                          White-fly                                  Marigold
Praying Mantis           Adult          All insect pests        Predator        Trap crops and the
                                                                                     main crop
    Spiders              Adult          All insect Pests        Predator        Trap crops and the
                                                                                     main crop
   Red Ants              Adult            Boll worms            Predator        Trap crops such as
                                                                                     cow peas

 (iv) Preventing pests from becoming a problem
 The first step in organic pest management is to support healthy growth of the cotton crop.
 The second step is to prevent pest populations from building up and becoming a problem.
 The preventive measures described below can help in this.

 Promotion of natural enemies
 In a bio-diverse field not treated with pesticides, natural enemies help the farmer keep pest
 attacks within tolerable levels. Natural enemy populations can be increased in the field by
 providing suitable habitats through intercropping of flowering plants, applying mulch,
 setting up bird perches etc.
 Generally speaking, the more different plants are growing in a field, the higher the number
 of different natural enemies. Intercropping of other crops in cotton is therefore an effective
 preventive pest-management strategy. A good example is sunflower, where studies in
 Tanzania have shown that cotton plots intercropped with sunflower have up to ten times
 more beneficial ants than plots without sunflower. These ants feed on eggs and caterpillars
 of the American bollworm and can thus reduce the pest population to a great degree. By
 using the inter-plants shown in table 2 and following the field layout shown in figure 3 the
 farmer will be well on the way to encouraging predators and parasitoids (farmers’ friends)
 into the cotton field.

 Insect zoo – who eats whom?
 To see how natural enemies work, collect different varieties of pests (bollworms, aphids,
 jassids) and their natural enemies (ladybird beetles, lace wings, assassin bugs, spiders) from
 a cotton field and put them in a glass jar, together with some twigs of cotton (stuck in wet
 cotton wads to keep them fresh). Observe over 2–3 days which insects survive and which
 insects are eaten up.

Some moths use pheromones to communicate for mating. The male moths can smell the
pheromones emitted by females over large distances and thus are able to find them.
Synthetic imitations of these pheromones are used in dispensers that are spread in the field
in large numbers to disturb the insects’ communication so that egg laying can be prevented.
Pheromones are non-toxic and do not affect beneficial insects. Each insect species has
different pheromones. Pheromone dispensers against pink bollworm and other bollworms
are commercially available in some countries.

Removing crop residues
Some cotton pests can survive in cotton stalks and seeds. Therefore it is important that
cotton be uprooted after the end of the harvest, and removed from the field or buried by
ploughing the field. In Zambia this must be done by September, and it is a legal requirement
that this is carried out. Cattle grazing the field after the picking is completed help to destroy
the remaining pests in the unpicked bolls and leaves.

(v) Direct pest management methods
Only when the first two steps of organic pest management – strengthening the crop and
preventive measures – are not sufficient to keep pest populations below the economic
threshold, should direct control methods be used. The methods described below are
recommended in organic cotton production.

Biological control
Biological control uses living organisms or germs to control the pests. One prominent
example is the use of 'Trichocards' containing thousands of eggs of the parasitic wasp
Trichogramma, a predator of the American bollworm. The wasps lay their eggs into the eggs
of bollworms and eventually cause them to die. Similarly, the eggs of green lacewing can be
used against aphids and other pests. However, timing of orders, delivery and application are
crucial. In Zambia these products are not yet commercially available and in any case, they
would be uneconomical for the small-scale farmer. By promoting the natural enemies of the
pests through the planting of intercrops the farmer can perform some form of biological
control by collecting “farmers’ friends” and releasing them into the field. In Uganda,
organic cotton farmers rear and promote ants of the Acantholepis family for controlling a
number of pests.

Other bio-control methods involve microbes and viruses attacking the pests:
           • Bt spray: Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) is a microbe that is effective against leaf
              feeding caterpillars. Therefore, it is only effective against bollworm in its
              early stage, before it enters the bolls. Night time spraying increases exposure
              to Bt, since sunlight breaks it down.
           • Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (NPV) This virus attacks American bollworm
              and causes its death. To multiply the NPV preparation locally, spray NPV on

               a cotton field, collect caterpillars affected by NPV, grind them and dilute with
            • Beauvaria bassiana: This insect-disease–causing fungus affects cutworms
               and budworms. It works best during periods of high humidity. Preparations
               are commercially available but not in Zambia at present.
Most bio-control products are only efficient against a specific pest – for different pests,
different species or strains are used.

(vi) Natural Pesticides
There are a number of natural pesticides that can be used in organic cotton cultivation, and
organic farmers continuously try out new ones. Because little scientific research has been
done on the efficacy of most of the locally prepared formulations, farmers are encouraged to
do their own experiments and trials to find out which natural pesticides are most suitable for
their crops. Below we list some of the natural pesticides used by farmers in India and Africa.

Caution: Many natural pesticides also affect beneficial insect populations and thus
should be used only when really necessary. Some plant extracts are also toxic to
humans and animals and should be used with care.

Table 11 Natural Pesticides
Neem spray (Azadirachta indica)
Ingredients:      Neem kernel extract, containing azadirachtin
Target pests:     Sucking pests, jassids, bollworms, thrips
Preparation:      Farm-made: Pound 30 g neem kernels (that is the seed from which the seed coat has been
                  removed) and mix in 1 litre of water. Leave overnight. The next morning, filter the
                  solution through a fine cloth and use immediately for spraying. It should not be further
                  Commercial formulations like EcoNeem, NeemCare etc.: as per package description.
Remarks:          Sprays from neem seed or leaf extract do not kill the insects directly but reduce their
                  normal activities like feeding, moving and multiplying. Therefore the effect is not
                  noticeable until after few days. The main advantage of using neem is that it is not
                  harmful to most beneficial insects. To a limited extent, neem’s active substance is also
                  absorbed by the plants and thus affects the pest when they feed on the crop.
                  In India, commercial formulations of neem-based pesticides have an azadirachtin content
                  of between 0.03 to 1.5%. When using a product with a low content, the application rate
                  must be higher to achieve the same effect. High doses of neem oil, however, may have a
                  negative impact on the crop. Therefore it is advisable to use a formulation with a high
                  azadirachtin content made by a manufacturer that has strict quality control.

De-oiled neem cake (Azadirachta indica)
Ingredients:      De-oiled cake of neem seeds
Target pests:     Nematodes, cutworms
Preparation:      Crushing, oil extraction
Remarks:          Applied as manure to each cotton plant.
Ingredients:      Powdered flower heads or liquid extracts of a daisy-like chrysanthemum (commercially

Target pests:     Red cotton bug, cutworms, grasshoppers
Preparation:      Commercial preparations: as per package instructions.
Remarks:          Pyrethrum causes immediate paralysis or death to most insects, but also affects beneficial
                  insects. The active substance in the pyrethrum extract is quickly destroyed when exposed
                  to sunlight.

Garlic-onion-chilli repellent
Ingredients:      2.5 kg garlic, 2.5 kg onion, 7.5 kg green chilli. 10 litres water.
Target pests:     Bollworm, sucking pests
Preparation:      Crush the ingredients and mix in 4 litres water to prepare a stock solution. Add 500 litres
                  of water to this stock solution for spraying 1 ha.
Remarks:          This repellent does not kill the insects but deters pests from the crop.
Remarks:          Repelling effect.
Coriander seed spray (Coriandrum sativum)
Ingredients:      200 g coriander seeds, water
Target pests:     Spider mites
Preparation:      Boil the crushed coriander seeds for 10 minutes in 1 litre water. Dilute with 2 litres of
                  water. Spray early in the morning.
Remarks:          Repelling effect.
Buttermilk spray
Ingredients:      300 ml buttermilk, in 15 litres water
Target pests:     Bollworms and other caterpillars; spider mites (also in the chilli crop).
Preparation:      Allow the buttermilk to ferment for 3 to 4 weeks. Ideally keep it in a bottle in a straw
                  heap so that the temperature is kept constant. Mix 300 ml of the fermented buttermilk in
                  15 litres of water.
Remarks:          Mechanism not fully clear.
Flour spray
Ingredients:      2 cups of fine white flour; half cup of soap (sticker), 15 litres water
Target pests:     Aphids, spider mites, thrips, whitefly
Preparation:      Stir the flour into the water. Add the soap and stir again before spraying.
Soft soap spray
Ingredients:      Soft soap, water
Target pests:     Aphids, jassids, whitefly, thrips
Preparation:      Stir 15 g soft soap into 15 litres water.
Remarks:          Soft soap sprays also affect beneficial insects and should only be used as the last resort.

(vii) Mass trapping
Traps can help reduce the population of certain pests, especially of moths
(the adults of caterpillars). If used at an early stage, they can prevent mass
multiplication. There are several types of traps, for example:
       Light traps attract night-active flying pest insects.
       Sticky traps of yellow colour.
       Pheromone traps attract the male moths that get stuck in the trap.

                                                                                    Figure 6
                                                                                    Light trap

a) Constructed traps
Various kinds of traps can be constructed to catch insects, rodents or other creatures, which
will threaten the cotton crop. The most common ones are:

   1. Light traps - set up to catch night-flying insects. Electric or kerosene lamps can be
      used. The tripod stand can be used. The tripod stand is anchored on the ground and
      the light source is hung in the middle of three poles and a shallow bowl (dish) filled
      with water is placed underneath. Cooking oil is then added to water so that when the
      moth falls in, after being attracted to the light, the oil will stick to wings preventing it
      from flying away. Lamps can be set at different heights above the ground, preferably
      1 m and above, so that moths can see them more easily even from a long distance.

   2. Sticky traps.
      There are numerous ways of making and using sticky traps.
         • Yellow sticky trap. Yellow is one of the colours liked by insects and it can be
             seen from a distance (it’s easily identified). Sticky traps have sticking stuff-
             (glue) so that when insects touch the trap, the glue will hold them.
         • Blue sticky trap. These are mainly for thrips. These work on the same
             principle as yellow sticky traps. All these can be set above the cotton crop so
             that the insects can see them.

   3. Bait traps.
   This is another method of catching and controlling adult insect pests before they could
   do any harm to cotton. A small amount of food is placed in a trap to attract insect pests.
   These could be:
           • Pit traps - these are used to trap crawling insect pests.
           • Funnel trap, which is a way of trapping both crawling insect pests and flying
              insect pests. Because funnelled bait traps can be used for both crawling and
              flying insects they should be set at different heights depending on the crop
              stage and type of pest targeted.
           • Yellow bait traps are another type of traps that will help to control the female
              moth before it lays eggs.
The optimum timing for placing the trap depends on the life cycle of the pest and
development stage of the crop.
Traps are especially useful for monitoring pest populations. See later notes on scouting.

(viii) Hand Picking
This is another method of pest control that can be practised by the small-scale farmer. This
literally involves walking through the field and collecting the pests that are found. This can
be done in conjunction with preparing an NPV spray for bollworm. In the case of cotton this
method of control is only really applicable to bollworm control. It should not however be
dismissed as it can be effective in controlling infestations without harming the natural
balance of pests and predators in the field, unlike using a natural pesticide, and is a preferred
method of control.

(ix) Monitoring pests (scouting)
A key to successful pest management in cotton is a careful and continuous monitoring of
pest levels in the cotton fields during the critical growth period (approximately 4 weeks after
sowing up to the second harvest). Monitoring helps to determine when a pest population
reaches the economic threshold and, therefore, when direct control measures need to be
implemented. For monitoring, farmers randomly inspect a number of cotton plants while
crossing the field in diagonals.
For monitoring American bollworm populations, farmers in some African cotton projects
use simple pegboards for scouting. They check 30 randomly selected cotton plants for flared
square buds (rosette shape, infested by bollworms), moving the pegs in the board one step
ahead for every inspected plant (upper line) and for every infested bud (lower line). If 15
flared square buds are found, the economic threshold is reached; hand picking is
recommended before resorting to a natural pesticide.

 • •••••••••••••• ••••••••••••••••
 • •••••••••••••• •
Figure 7 Design of a peg board used for monitoring American bollworm populations
Steps in scouting for key pests including American bollworm:
      Start scouting 3 weeks after germination until the bolls open. It is a continuous
      process, done weekly.
      Checking is done in 2 diagonals of the cotton field, starting 5 steps inside the field
      from one corner.
      Check the cotton plant next to you, counting all newly opened flared squares (those
      with changed shape due to bollworm attack; not dropped squares) on this plant. Move
      the marker forward in the right part 1 hole per flared square.
      After finishing with this plant, move the marker in the left part 1 hole.
      Continue with another plant after every 5–10 steps up to the end of the diagonal (then
      15 plants should be examined), moving the markers forward accordingly. Then start
      with the second diagonal from the other corner.
      Continue the procedures until 30 plants have been inspected; or 15 flared squares are
      found. When the stick for the flared squares reaches the red zone, the economic
      threshold is reached and spraying of a natural pesticide is recommended for the same
      Don’t spray when there are less than 15 flared squares.

(x) Pest to Predator ratios
This is simply the number of pests found on a plant related to the number of predators or
beneficial insects found when inspecting the crop. This is another factor to consider before
the farmer decides to spray a natural remedy. The ratio is simply calculated by counting the
number of pests and the number of predators or beneficial insects found on the plant and
dividing one number by the other. The acceptable ratios for this vary between predators and
pests. Some examples are shown in the table below.

Table 12 Table of pest to predator ratios
    Predator or sign of                      Pest                     Acceptable ratio
   Lady bird beetle/ larvae              Aphid/Jassid                       1:40
    Lacewing egg/larvae                  Aphid/Jassid                       1:30
        Assassin bug                    Cotton stainer                      1:10
Farmers should always remember though that if there are predators present and they spray
predators may be affected and the natural balance may be disturbed. The farmer needs to
decide if any real economic loss is threatening before resorting to chemical control; hand
picking may be an alternative.

(xi) Seed treatment
Conventionally produced cotton seeds are frequently treated with chemicals prohibited in
organic farming. Thus, organic cotton farmers need to ensure that they get untreated seeds
(and no GMO varieties!), if possible from organic multiplication. Organic cotton projects
can facilitate the supply of suitable untreated seed material or arrange for their own seed
multiplication programme.
Fertile soil and balanced crop rotation should largely prevent damage by pests and diseases
caused before and during germination. Where these preventive measures are not sufficient, a
number of alternative treatments of seeds can be used.
Table 13 Seed treatments
Seed Treatment            Effect                           Remarks
Dipping in cow urine      Protects seeds from cutworm      Since spoilt seeds float up
                          and wireworms. Supports          in the cow urine, it also
                          good germination and             helps to remove damaged
                          development of the initial       seeds.
Coating with cow dung     Protects seeds from cutworm      Mix cow dung, termite
and termite soil (or      and wireworms. Supports          soil and some water. Rub
clay)                     good germination and             the seeds in this mud until
                          development of the initial       small balls form, each
                          roots.                           containing one seed.

(i) Quality issues in cotton picking
The quality of the cotton harvest depends on the length of the fibre (staple length), on the
degree of contamination with non-fibre material such as leaves or dust, and on the portion of
fibre damaged by pest or disease infestation amongst other parameters. Good-quality raw
material helps to produce yarns and garments of high quality, and thus eventually
contributes to the market success of the organic cotton project. When cotton buyers fix
prices, they usually take into consideration the quality of the seed cotton. A measure taken to
improve the quality of the harvest therefore directly pays off for the farmers:
    • Allow the cotton bolls to fully ripen and open.
    • Pick the cotton after the morning dews have dried up, so that the cotton is dry and
        less prone to fungus when being stored.
    • Pick the cotton into the polythene bags supplied by the cotton company, never into
        woven nylon or polypropylene sacks (old mealie-meal bags).
    • Remove leaves, capsules and damaged bolls from the cotton harvest.
    • Use two bags; keep cotton of lesser quality separate with the help of a second,
        smaller picking bag.
    • Picking delays can cause reduction of fibre quality, as the opened bolls are exposed
        to dew, dust and honeydew from insects longer.
    • It is important that no unripe cotton is picked, as it will not absorb the dye well
        enough and thus is priced lower.

Cotton Grades
Most companies in Zambia buy cotton based on four grades;
‘Grade A’ this should consist of good white cotton with no foreign matter or bodies; ideally
this grade should attract a good price.
‘Grade B’ this grade is cotton containing obvious amounts of immature fibre, leaf trash, soil
or discoloured lint.
‘Grade C’ this will qualify all cotton containing substantial but not excessive amounts of
stained, or discoloured cotton, leaf and other trash and damaged seed.
 ‘Grade D’ (Rejects) this can be considered as a fourth grade that is usually unsaleable. This
cotton contains excessive amounts of stained or discoloured cotton or leaf and weed trash.
A major cost factor in cotton production is the labour required for cotton picking. The
following suggestions might help to increase the efficiency of cotton picking, and to ensure
a high-quality harvest:
            • Use a long sack so that the weight rests on the ground;
           •   Keep the sack permanently open with a ring of flexible wood;
           •   Pick two rows at a time;
           •   Keep a separate, smaller bag for second-grade cotton.
(ii) Storage
If farmers store the harvested cotton before selling it, they should take care to prevent
contamination from dust or chemicals, especially fertilizers, pesticides, and petroleum.
Never use any storage pest control (e.g. DDT) on the harvested cotton! The storage place
needs to be clean and dry. Damp conditions can lead to the growth of fungus, with
significant loss of cotton quality. When organic harvest is stored in the same facilities with
conventional cotton (e.g., in ginneries), care must be taken to clearly separate the organic,
in-conversion and non-organic produce, and to avoid any mixing.

Quality of the lint is most important in the whole cotton chain. Quality in cotton is usually
defined by criteria required by the ginners, spinners and the fabric producers. The following
criteria are the main considerations from these groups: -
             • Purity of seed cotton, lack of non-cotton fibres or other material in the seed
             • Staple length of lint between 27-32mm
             • Good fibre strength in the range of 3.5 to 4.5 micronair
             • Whiteness of the lint
             • Stickiness of the lint, which is caused by aphids, whiteflies, jassids, etc.
             • Fineness or coarseness of the lint
             • Amount of short fibres in the lint
The industry wants clean, white lint, as long a staple length as possible, good strength, no
stickiness, low amounts of short fibres and a fine rather than coarse lint. Quality lint starts
with excellent management at farm level. The farmer can to a very large extent determine
the quality of the lint by producing quality cotton at his or her farm. A cotton plant that is
continuously growing well during the growing season will more likely have longer and
stronger fibres, be free of Neps (knots in the lint), and have a fineness in appearance. A plant
will grow well if it is weed free and has sufficient nutrients. So applying good compost and
manure teas at the correct time will help the farmer attain a quality seed cotton and lint. The
implementation of the quality management principles can be split into two categories as
shown in the table.

Table 14 Implementation of Quality Management Principles

       Quality Procedures                                    Quality Controls
Timely and correct land preparation (May- July)
Timely and correct application of basal
Early planting with the first rains                   Early and continuous weeding when
Achieving a good plant population of between          Early gapping and thinning to ensure
63,000- 74,000 plants per ha.                         correct plant population
Correctly timed planting of interplants
throughout the growing season
Correctly timed application of liquid feeds, top
Adequate pest and disease control during              Physical or chemical (natural pesticide)
growing season                                        control of pests if a threshold level is
                                                      reached in a part of the field
Harvesting as soon as 4-5 bolls per plant have
opened and continue to harvest as soon as cotton
is ready
Grade cotton at harvest time by using two             Check grades again when packing bales.
picking bags                                          There should be no mixing of grades in
Clean and secure storage of cotton on farm to
avoid contamination from non organic products

as this could cause the cotton to loose its organic
Comply with the organic regulations at all stages
of the growing, harvesting, storing and
transporting processes

If the farmer follows the above procedures and ensures that the cotton plants stay healthy
and stress-free throughout the growing season, he or she will ensure that the best quality
cotton is produced. If the buyers know that they can obtain quality lint from a known farmer
they will be more ready to pay a higher price for the seed cotton.
On the other hand, if producers supply poor quality cotton it will be reflected all through the
supply chain and that group or country will get a lower price for its cotton. The reputation of
producers from that group or country will also be adversely affected and marketing and
achieving good prices in the future may become a problem.
Organic cotton is marketed to the final consumer as a premium product in terms of quality
and this is one reason why an organic premium is passed back to the producer. If producers
produce a low quality product any potential financial benefits from growing organic cotton
will be lost. Organic cotton in addition to having all the qualities required by the industry
will also be chemical free. Consumers are now demanding for this product and are willing to
pay a premium for organic products.

Major markets for organic cotton textiles are Europe (Germany, Switzerland, UK, and
Sweden), the USA, and Japan. Initially, most organic cotton was processed into garments
containing 100% organic cotton fibre. Recently, some large garment brands have decided to
blend a certain percentage (usually 5–10%) of organic yarn into their entire range of articles
rather than selling purely organic clothes. This could increase the demand for organic cotton
fibre considerably. Companies can communicate to their customers that they support organic
cotton farming, which helps them to improve their corporate image.
Purchase, transport and ginning.
The processes of purchasing, transporting and ginning are not fundamentally different in
organic cotton production and in conventional production. The main divergence lies in the
need for organic cotton to be dealt with completely separately from conventional cotton, in
order to be marketable as certified organic cotton fibre. The separation of organic cotton
from other cotton implies that specific measures need to be taken at some cost by project
management, transporters and ginneries to prevent any ‘contamination’. Organic seed cotton
is therefore packed separately per producer, or producer group, in special bags, so as to
ensure its traceability from the field to the ginnery. The organic cotton bags are all labeled
with the name and/or number of the organic producer as used in the project’s internal
producer files. The bags also bear the logo, name and/or number of the organic seed cotton
purchaser (i.e., the project), the ginnery and the external control and certification body. In
effect, this separate packaging in special bags leads to extra costs for organic cotton
compared with conventional cotton. This applies particularly to the smaller organic cotton
projects. Extra costs will be lower in the larger projects where entire villages are growing
organically. In that case projects can more easily ensure the organic quality of the seed
cotton and they may opt for the same packaging method as is common in conventional
cotton production, i.e., putting all seed cotton in one heap after purchase. Traceability of the
organic seed cotton per producer is in that case limited up to the site of purchase.
Ginning consists of the cleaning and mechanical separation of cotton fiber from cottonseeds.
Ginning is normally carried out close to the site of seed cotton production in order to reduce
transport costs and to prevent losses in fiber quality. Ginneries need high volumes of seed
cotton to run economically. The organic seed cotton of the various producers and villages is
therefore mixed at ginning. The traceability of the seed cotton per producer is thus possible
only up to the ginnery. If the cotton is kept separate for each producer group throughout the
chain it is possible to trace it up to the final garment. Before organic seed cotton is ginned,
equipment needs to be cleaned carefully and cleaning recorded and checked. Usually,
ginneries comply with this organic requirement without major problems as machinery needs
to be cleaned regularly for maintenance works. Before and after ginning, organic cotton
must be kept in separate identified storage areas. For transport of organic seed cotton and
cotton fibre, trucks need to be free of any residues of synthetic inputs, conventional cotton
fibre or seed, etc.
The marketing of certified organic cotton fiber from sub-Saharan Africa is almost entirely in
the hands of Europe-based traders. More than 90% of organic cotton fiber is marketed and
traded by three operators who each hold between one-third and one-quarter of total volumes:
Bo Weevil (the Netherlands; 37%),
Ecotropic (United Kingdom; 31%),
and REMEI (Switzerland; 26%).
Bo Weevil established itself in the early 1990s as a pioneer in organic cotton production. Bo
Weevil initiated the first marketing and trade of organic fiber and textiles from Turkey. The
company soon became involved in organic cotton projects elsewhere: Argentina, Gujarat

and Maharashtra in India, Israel and Paraguay. Bo Weevil sells cotton fiber, yarns, fabrics
and end products. Its involvement in Uganda at first only consisted of the purchase of the
certified organic cotton fiber. Since 1998/99, however, Bo Weevil has become much more
involved in project management. Outside Uganda the project is now known as the Bo
Weevil Lango Organic Project.
Ecotropic was established as a trader in the late-1990s by the organic and bio-dynamic
agriculture consultant Tadeu Caldas. As a consultant he was involved in the Indian Maikaal
project of REMEI in Madhya Pradesh, from the outset until 1998. Since then he has been
involved in organic cotton projects in Senegal (until 1998) and Kenya (until 1999). Caldas
became involved in the German mail-order company Hess-Natur. Ecotropic was founded
and took over the project in collaboration with its local Senegalese trade partner BIO-
AGRO. Ecotropic is also reported to be involved in a new organic cotton project in India,
close to the REMEI Maikaal project.
REMEI is a cotton yarn trader reputed for its active and committed involvement in organic
cotton production and marketing. Its organic cotton products (yarns; but also fiber, fabrics
and end-products) are traded under the bioRe trademark. REMEI first became involved in
organic cotton production in Madhya Pradesh (India) in the early 1990s. In 1994, REMEI
initiated the Tanzanian project with a local conventional spinning mill. REMEI bought the
organic cotton produced – yarns initially and later fiber. The GTZ trade promotion
programme supported the local company. In 1998, REMEI took over the project following
the repeated financial problems of its former Tanzanian partners. REMEI also trades in
organic cotton fibre from Turkey, but there it is not directly involved in the project.
In Zimbabwe, organic cotton marketing and trade was in the hands of the multinational
Cargill, which owns a ginning mill in the North of the country. However, a consultant from
Agro Eco Zimbabwe effectively did the marketing and trade of the small volumes of organic
cotton. In 1998/99 a liaison was forged with Cargill (cotton fibre) and Zimbabwe Spinners
and Weavers (yarns and fabrics) to produce organic t-shirts as end products. But the 1998/99
experiences were judged by Cargill to be discouraging due to internal management
problems. Cargill withdrew from the project in early 2000 and the purchase of organic seed
cotton at a premium price had to be abandoned. The Zimbabwe project has not yet been
revived, but may eventually be in the near future.
Local African NGOs are involved in the marketing of organic cotton in Benin and Senegal.
These NGOs are not oriented towards industry and trade but instead support the livelihoods
improvement of small-scale farmers and raise awareness. In the early years of the project,
OBEPAB (Benin) purchased the organic seed cotton from producers at donor-funded
premium prices, but then sold them to the national cotton marketing board at conventional
prices – because of the small volumes available. The 1999/2000 cotton fiber was sold for the
first time at an organic premium price. The buyer, a consortium of textile and clothing
companies in the Netherlands, has committed itself to purchase OBEPAB’s future organic
cotton fiber output.
The ENDA-Pronat experiences in Senegal are less encouraging. In the early days of the
project, ENDA-Pronat once managed to sell its small volumes of organic cotton fiber to the
local spinning mill Cotonnière du Cap-Vert (CCV) at an organic premium price. However,
the next season all Senegalese cotton (both conventional and organic) was judged to be very
sticky due to high whitefly pressure. ENDA-Pronat then had to sell its cotton at conventional
prices. In subsequent years, internal project management experienced a lot of problems that
left their mark through severely reduced production and a focus on trouble-shooting rather
than trading. All cotton fiber from 1998/99-2000/01 is still unsold and stored at the project

Organic Cotton Quality.
 Contrary to common belief outside the organic sector, organic cotton fibre quality is
generally equal to or even better than conventional fibre quality. This may be due to the
more natural growing process organic cotton plants go through. Conventional cottons tend to
be ‘pushed’ to reach maturity fast. Field observations in various countries suggest that the
synthetic cotton insecticides used at the end of the growing cycle act as artificial growth
regulators and defoliators. Organic cotton plants sown at similar periods to conventional
ones tend to be much greener than their brownish-red conventional counterparts by the end
of the season. In consequence, organic seed cotton comes to maturity somewhat later than
conventional seed cotton.
Organic cotton fibre tends to be as long as or even longer than conventional fibre. Organic
cotton fibre is also reported to be as white as or whiter than conventional cotton fibre.

Beneficial insects        See Predator and Parasitoid
Border crop               Crop grown at the edge of organic fields bordering conventionally managed
                          fields in order to reduce drift of pesticide sprays.
Certification             A process verifying the compliance of farm management with organic standards;
                          based on inspection of the farm and its documentation.
Conversion                The process of changing the farm management from conventional to organic
                          practices as per the organic standards.
Cotton lint               Cotton fibre without seeds.
Crop rotation             Sequence of crops grown in a field over several years.
Economic threshold        The level of pest infestation below, which the damage caused by the pest, is
                          lower than the cost of control efforts.
Extension service         A support system for farmers, usually provided by the NGO or company
                          organizing the organic project. Services may include training, technical advice,
                          internal control, supply of farm inputs and marketing.
Fair trade                A certification scheme for trade relations between farmer groups or estates in
                          developing countries, and ‘Western’ buyers or traders. Conditions for qualifying
                          are defined in fair trade criteria. Fair trade projects can, but need not, be organic,
                          and vice versa.
Farmers’ Friends          Another name for beneficial insects and organisms.
Farmyard manure           Droppings and beddings of farm animals, usually of cattle.
Ginning                   Mechanically removing the cotton fibres from its seeds.
Gossypol                  A yellow pigment produced by the cotton plant, mainly found in cotton seeds. It
                          protects the cotton plant from insects.
Green manure              A crop grown before or between the main crop rows, cut before maturation and
                          subsequently ploughed in or used as mulch. It provides nutrients to the main crop
                          through decomposition and helps to build up humus in the soil.
Gross margin              Crop or field output (mainly revenues from sales of crop) minus variable
                          production costs (seeds, fertilizers, sprays, hired labour etc.).
Hedgerow                  A permanent planting along the field or farm boundary made up of a variety of
                          trees, shrubs, and other beneficial plants.
Intercropping             Crop grown between the main crop rows, for harvesting. After harvesting, it may
                          serve as mulch.
Inter-plants              Plants of a different species to the main crop grown in the field to aid pest and
                          disease control.
Internal Control System   An inspection system managed by the project to ensure that farmers follow the
(ICS)                     agreed-upon organic standards. For certification, the functioning of the ICS is
                          evaluated by an external agency.
Integrated Pest           A combination of chemical and biological control methods, based on the concept
Management (IPM)          of economic thresholds. Pest management in organic farming uses many
                          biological control methods developed as a part of IPM.
Leguminous crops          = legumes (e.g., peas, beans, Lucerne, groundnuts); plants that produce seeds in
                          pods. Most of them have root nodules containing bacteria that fix nitrogen from
                          the air.
Mulch                     Plant material such as straw, leaves, crop residues, green manure crops, saw-dust,
                          etc. that is spread upon the surface of the soil. A mulch cover helps protect the
                          soil from erosion and evaporation, nourishes soil life, increases soil organic
                          matter content, and provides nutrients to the crop.
Natural enemies           See ‘Predator’ and ‘Parasitoid’.
Nitrogen immobilization   Temporary nitrogen shortage in the soil due to decomposition of organic material
                          that is low in nitrogen. Can be avoided through proper composting of farmyard
                          manure and crop residues.
Nutrient exchange         The ability of soil to take up and release nutrients. Nutrient exchange capacity is
capacity                  highest with clay particles and soil organic matter.

Organic agriculture   Holistic farming system that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
(OA)                  It emphasizes the set-up of a balanced agro-ecosystem and is based on methods
                      like crop rotation, intercropping, green manures, organic manures, biological pest
                      control, etc. The farm can be certified organic if the specified organic standards
                      are fully met.
Organic manures       Manures derived from animal products or plant residues. They usually have
                      considerable nitrogen content, and contain most other nutrients essential for plant
Organic premium       Percentage or fixed amount paid for an organic product in addition to the
                      prevailing market price for non-organic products.
Organic standards     Minimum requirements for a farm and its products to be certified organic.
                      Organic standards are specific to certain regions (e.g., EU-regulation EEC
                      2092/91) or private labels (e.g., Naturland, BIO SUISSE).
Parasitoids           Minute wasps which lay their eggs in pests or in pest eggs for the larvae to feed
                      on when they hatch. The adult wasp survives on nectar from small flowers.
Pheromone             Chemical substance released by one organism that influences the behaviour or
                      physiological processes of another organism of the same species, e.g., a substance
                      emitted by female insects in order to attract males. Synthetic pheromones are
                      used to disorient male insects and thus to prevent mating.
Predator              Animal that attacks and feeds on other animals, such as an insect (e.g., ladybird
                      beetle), bird or spider feeding on pest insects.
Ratooning             This is the practice of allowing the cotton crop to grow for more than one season
                      this practice is not allowed in Zambia by law.
Resistance            Ability of a crop not to get affected by a disease or pest; or of a pest not to be
                      affected by a pesticide.
Seed cotton           Cotton as it is picked (fibre along with seeds).
Seed treatment        Treatment of seeds to protect them against soil- and seed-borne diseases and
                      pests, and/or to improve germination and initial growth. In organic farming, seeds
                      treated with synthetic pesticides cannot be used.
Soil organic matter   Organic substances in the soil originating from animal and plant residues in
                      various stages of decomposition and re-formation. Also referred to as humus.
Souping               The application of teas to the crop as a liquid feed, normally drenched onto the
                      base of the plant.
Staple length         Average length of the cotton fibres. An important parameter for defining the
                      quality and thus the price of the cotton.
Tea                   Liquid manure made by soaking manure/compost or leaves in a sack in water for
                      10-14 days and used as a soil drench or foliar feed.
Trap crop             A crop grown in order to attract pests and to distract the pests from the main crop.
Vermi-compost         Continuously fed compost system in which pre-decomposed organic material is
                      eaten by large numbers of earthworms. Their faeces are high in silica and make
                      an organic manure of excellent quality.
Water retention       The ability of the soil to retain water and moisture.

Appendix 1

Legumes and Green Manure Crops
There are many types of plants that can be used as green manures. Legumes are particularly
beneficial because they increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil. In the tropics legumes
are common. Here are some examples of legumes for which detailed information can be
obtained from HDRA

Common Names                   Species                        Recommended Application
Butterfly pea                  Clitoria ternatea              As a green manure/cover
Blue pea, wing leafed                                         crop to suppress weeds, add
clitoria                                                      fertility and control erosion.
Cluster Bean                   Cyamopsis tetragonoloba        As a green manure/cover
Guar, Siam bean                                               crop to suppress weeds, add
                                                              fertility and control erosion
                                                              in rotation with crops
Common Bean                    Phaseolus vulgaris             Grown as a green
Kidney bean, French bean                                      manure/cover crop to
                                                              suppress weeds, add fertility
                                                              and control erosion. Can be
                                                              interplanted with other crops.
Cowpea                         Vigna unguiculata,             As a green manure to
Black-eyed pea                 Unguiculata spp.               suppress weeds, add fertility
                                                              and control erosion. Can be
                                                              intercropped with maize.
Jack bean                      Canavalia ensiformis           As an intercrop with coffee
Horse bean                                                    and sugar cane. As a green
                                                              manure/cover crop to
                                                              suppress weeds, add fertility
                                                              and control erosion.
Lab lab bean                   Lablab purpureus               As a green manure
Hyacinth bean,                                                cover/crop to suppress
Egyptian bean                                                 weeds, add fertility and
                                                              control erosion. Good green
                                                              manure for the dry season.
Lima bean                      Phaseolus lunatus              As green manure to add
Sieva bean,                                                   fertility and control erosion
Butter bean                                                   in rotation with crops.
Mung bean                      Vigna radiata                  Grown as a green
Green gram,                                                   manure/cover crop, to
Golden gram                                                   suppress weeds, add soil
                                                              fertility and control erosion.
                                                              In rotation with or
                                                              intercropped with other

Pigeon Pea               Cajanus cajan             Used in perennial alley
Dahl, Longo,                                       cropping system, foliage cut
Red gram                                           at 0.8m heights for use as a
                                                   green manure or pea, or used
                                                   as a cover crop to suppress
                                                   weeds, add fertility and
                                                   control erosion. Can also be
                                                   used as a shade crop.
Rice bean                Vigna umbellata           As a green manure/cover
Climbing mountain bean                             crop to suppress weeds, add
                                                   fertility and control erosion,
                                                   commonly used in rotation
                                                   with rice.
Soybean                  Glycine max               To add soil fertility in
Soya bean                                          rotation with the main crop.
Stylo                    Stylosanthes guianensis   As green manure/cover crop
Brazilian stylo,                                   to suppress weeds, add
Brazilian lucerne                                  fertility and control erosion.
Sunnhemp                 Crotolaria juncea         Grown as a green manure in
Indian hemp,                                       rotation with other crops to
Brown hemp                                         suppress weeds, add fertility
                                                   and control erosion. Can be
                                                   intercropped with other
Velvet bean              Mucuna pruriens           As a green manure/cover
                                                   crop to suppress weeds, add
                                                   soil fertility and control
White tephrosia          Tephrosia candida         Used as a cover crop to
                                                   suppress weeds, add fertility
                                                   and control erosion.
Appendix 2
Cotton Farmers Recording Sheet
Farmer Name:                                   Year:             Crop:                        Size under crop:                     Intercrop:                Harvest intercrop:           kg

 Date                      Activity                               Labour                Other Expenses (inputs, rent, irrigation etc.)                            Crop harvest
  d/m       Name or brief description of the activity        Own            Hired                Name of the item              Quantity         Cost         Quantity          Value
                                                          labour days      labour                                                (kg)           (K)            (kg)             (K)

                                          Totals:                                                                Totals:
                                 Average labour rate: K…………/day                                                                                                         Intercrop value:
Yield                       kg/ha Total production cost                                K Net profit (incl. own labour)                                  K                           K/ha
(Crop harvest/land size)           (Own labour days * rate + hired labour costs + expenses)          Crop value + intercrop value – total production cost)        (divide by land size)
Appendix 3
Organic Cotton Growing Calendar

Date                    Growth            Growth            Field Work                PESTS                     ACTION                                                                        INTERPLANT
                        Week               Stage                                                                                                                                                RATE/HA

                                                    Start making compost              Remember – do not         Cut, heap and burn cotton stalks as a pest control     Farmscaping – ensure permanent plantings for hedgerows are in

                                                    Remove any cotton plant from      bury cotton residues.     measure                                                place to attract beneficial insects.
                                                    old fields.                       It is estimated that                                                             Important – ensure that you have nectar rich plants on your farm
                                                    Make basins or lines early but    75% of all insect                                                                such as dill, coriander, mustard family and marigolds and other
                                                    apply compost or manure one       pests spend part of                                                              flowering plants all year round.
                                                    month to two weeks before         their life in the soil.
                                                    planting (10t/ha) In lines or
                                                    basins this would mean a
                                                    quantity of approx 500-750kg
                                                    in one lima. More could be
                                                    added to depleted soils.

                                           0-2 cm   Planting – plant with first       Thrips                    Thrips – practice conservation tillage to build        Maize (traps aphids on tassels and bollworms)– 1kg at week 0
                                                    good rains or dry plant part of                             organic matter, spot spray with neem extract           Sweet sorghum (traps bollworms and aphids) – 0.5kg at week 0
                                                    the field (15kg/ha of seed)                                 Termites - apply ash or put trash along the lines to   Marigold (flowers attract most beneficial insects, also a
                                                                                      Termites,                 provide food for termites, mulch.                      repellent) -0.25kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting

                                                    Weeding this should be                                      Cutworms - drench with snake bean, papaya,             Okra (attracts cotton stainer) - 0.25kg at week 0
                                                    carried out as soon as the        Cutworms,                 tephrosia or pyrethrum leaf extracts,                  Sunflower (moths to lay eggs and attracts most beneficial
                                                    weeds are about 4cm high.                                   Grasshoppers – spot spray with papaya or neem          insects) - 5kg in hedgerows and borders at week 0
                                 1 to 3

                                                    Weed competition at this                                    extracts                                               Sunnhemp (flowers attract beneficial insects) – 3kg around
                                                    stage can affect yield so do      Grasshoppers,             Aphids – spot spray with garlic, tephrosia or soap     borders at week 0
                                                    not hesitate to start weeding.                              spray.                                                 Mustard (traps aphids and attracts beneficial insects) - 0.1kg on
                                                                                      Aphids                    General - set insect traps                             nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                                                                                                                                                       Dill (attracts beneficial insects) -0.1kg on nursery a month
                                                                                                                                                                       before transplanting
                                                                                                                                                                       Coriander (attracts beneficial insects)-0.1kg on nursery a month
                                                                                                                                                                       before transplanting

                                          50 cm     Souping (liquid manure            Jassids,                  Jassids – spot spray with garlic,                      Maize- 0.5kg last week of December
                                                    application) – drench with        Whitefly,                 Aphids – spot spray with garlic,
                                          6- leaf   Chicken manure/ cattle            Aphid,                     Grasshoppers-spot spray with garlic or neem           Sweet sorghum - 0.25kg 1st week January

                                                    manure / compost/ comfrey                                   extracts.
                                                    tea soaked in a 200lt drum        Elegant grasshopper                                                              Cowpeas - 0.4kg 2nd week December
                                                    .Diluted1:3 (approximately                                  Spot spray with snake beans
                                                    800lt/ha                                                                                                           Marigold - 0.1 kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                        3 to 6

                                                    This should be carried out                                  Hand pick and crush
                                                    weekly from week 3 to 6 of        Leaf rollers                                                                     Okra - 0.125kg 1st week January
                                                    planting)                                                   Hand pick, crush and remove affected bolls
                                                                                      Looping caterpillars                                                             Sunnhemp – 2kg in hedgerows 1st week January
                                                     Weeding should continue          Spiny bollworms           Set traps
                                                    until cotton is big enough to     Pink Bollworm                                                                    Mustard - 0.1kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                                    compete favorably.
                                  70 cm       Souping (liquid manure            Bollworms          Bollworms –hand pick crash and spray with mixture         Mustard - 0.1kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                             application) – drench with                            made with dead bollworms or spot spray with snake
                                  First      manure/compost/comfrey tea                            beans or neem extracts                                    Marigold - 0.1 kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                  buds       soaked in a 200lt drum. Dilute                        Aphids - spot spray with soft soap when levels are
                                             1:3 (approximately 800lt/ha        Aphid              high                                                      Cowpeas - 0.4kg 1st week January

                                             This should be carried out                            Jassids - spot spray with soft soap when levels are
                       6 to 9

                                             weekly from week 7 to 9).          Jassids            high                                                      Okra - 0.125kg 4th week January
                                                                                                   Whitefly – set traps or apply a botanical spray as a
                                             Top dressing-                      Whitefly           last resort                                               Sunflower – 0.25kg 4th week January
                                             manure/compost can be used                            Leaf rollers – apply a botanical spray as a last resort
                                             as a top dress if soils are very   Leaf rollers       Grasshoppers - apply a botanical spray as a last          Maize - 0.5kg 2nd week January
                                             poor and rain is enough                               resort                                                    Dill – 0.1 kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                                                                Grasshopper                                                                  Coriander –0.1 kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                  90 cm      Souping (liquid manure             Bollworms           Bollworms - hand pick crush and spray with               Mustard - 0.1kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting

                                             application) - drench with                            mixture made with dead bollworms or spot spray
                                  First      /compost/comfrey tea soaked                           with snake beans or neem extracts                         Marigold - 0.1 kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                  Flowers    in a 200lt drum Dilute 1:3                            Aphids - spot spray with soft soap when levels are
                       9 to 12

                                             (approximately 800lt/ha)           Aphid              high                                                      Cowpeas – 0.4kg 4th week January
                                             This should be done weekly                            Jassids - spot spray with soft soap when levels are
                                             from week 10 to 12.                Jassids            high                                                      Sorghum - 0.25 2nd week February
                                                                                                   Whitefly – set traps or apply a botanical spray as a
                                                                                Whitefly           last resort                                               Okra – 0.25kg 4th week of January
                                                                                                   Red- spider mite – spray with botanical sprays
                                                                                Red spider mite    especially African marigold and garlic as last resort
                                  120 cm     Souping (application of liquid     Red spider mite     Red- spider mite – spray with botanical sprays           Cowpeas     - 0.4kg 4th week February

                                             manure) drench with                                   especially African marigold and garlic as last resort
                                  Green      compost/comfrey tea soaked                            Handpick and crush                                        Mustard - 0.1kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                                  balls      in a 200lt drum Dilute 1:3         Cotton stainer     Aphids - spot spray with soft soap when levels are
                                             (approximately 800lt/ha)           Aphids             high                                                      Marigold - 0. 0.1kg on nursery 2 weeks before transplanting
                       12 to 15

                                             This should be carried out                            Jassids - spot spray with soft soap when levels are
                                             weekly from week 13 to 15          Jassids            high
                                             Application of liquid manure                           Bollworms - hand pick crush and spray with
                                             may have to stop if the cotton     Bollworms          mixture made with dead bollworms or spot spray
                                             grows too thick to prevent                            with snake beans or neem extracts
                                             easy access.

                                  150 cm     After completing harvesting        Red spider mites
                                             all cotton plants should be cut
                                  Open       down and removed from the          Cotton stainer     Cotton Stainer- Pick the cotton as soon as the bolls
                                  balls      field and burnt.                                      are ready. When 4-5 bolls per plant are open.
                       15 +

                                  (first                                        Aphids

NB. This is based on assumption that the farmer plants in mid November. The timings can be moved one week or more weeks forward for crops planted late.

    Appendix 4
    Organic Cotton Certification Requirements
    Production Requirements
•    The farmer has to be a practising organic farming
•    He or she has to be visited by the inspector at least once in a year to check and verify the
     suitability of the fields (buffer zones, soil fertility and pest management practices, slope of the
     field, storage areas, etc). With smallholder farmer groups inspections are done within the
     Internal Control System (ICS).
•    Seed should be organic and if not available an affidavit should be obtained to state non
     availability of organic seed as well as attestation that it is not genetically modified. Treated
     seed is not permitted.
•     All agronomical practices involved in organic cotton production such as fertilization, pest and
     disease control should be based on organic principles.
•    The farmer must comply with the organic procedures by ensuring that there is a separation
     between the conventional fields and the organic cotton fields. This can be from 4-15m
     depending on the effectiveness of the planted buffer to prevent contamination.
•    No parallel cropping of cotton, that is, no growing of organic and conventional cotton on the
     same holding.
•    Cropping bags and bales must not be contaminated with chemicals or conventional crop use
•    For traceability purposes, all bales must be labelled organic and identified to a particular
     producer by name and code number.
•    At all times organic cotton should be separated from conventional cotton to avoid
•    Records have to be kept for each farmer, such as field maps, field history, cropping schedule,
     inspection checklist and these are updated each year as necessary.
•    For farmer groups, records are summarised into a Farmer List, including organic status,
     hectarage and estimated yield
    Marketing Requirements
    A farmer who has not had a documented visit by an inspector (internal or external) for that
    particular season can’t market his or her products as organic.
    For grower groups, all farmers that satisfy the ICS as organic are listed in a Buyers’ List which
    includes farmer name, code, hectarage and estimated yield. Farmers who deliver significantly
    more than estimated need to be investigated before acceptance of the crop as organic.
    An organic certificate is required to market the cotton as organic.
    Transport from the farm to the depot and depot to the ginnery must be clean to prevent
    The ginning plant has to be inspected before, during and after ginning the cotton.
    Supervised cleaning schedules i.e. times of cleaning and materials for cleaning should be made
    available to the inspector.
     An initial amount of organic cotton needs to be put through the mill and kept aside as
     Storage areas for organic cotton have to be labelled ‘organic’
     Stock records including destination of cotton must be kept to ensure traceability.

    The spinning plant has also to be inspected to make sure that no contamination occurs if pure
    organic material is to be produced.

Appendix 5

Profitability of Organics Compared To Conventional Cotton
Production Costs for 0.25 ha
Item or Operation      Quantity              Cost in Conventional        Cost in Organic Cotton
                                             Cotton Production           Production
Cotton seed            3.75kg                K10, 000                    K10, 000
Maize seed             0.5kg                                             K3, 500
Sunflower seed         1.3kg                                             K1, 000
Sweet Sorghum seed     0.25kg                                            K250
Marigold seed          0.1kg                                             K5, 000
Cowpea seed            0.4kg                                             K1, 600
Dill seed              0.1kg                                             K5, 000
Coriander seed         0.1kg                                             K5, 000
Sunnhemp seed          1.25kg                                            K7, 500
Okra seed              0.25kg                                            K10, 000
Manure or              500 kg                                            K40, 000 manure
Compost                2.5 man days                                      K16,500 compost
Manure/Compost for     200Kg                                             K16, 000
Chemicals              0.5 ha pack           K100, 000
Solubor/Boron                                K30, 000
Land preparation
Basin making or                              K40, 000 or                 K40, 000 or
Ripping                                      K25, 000                    K25, 000
Applying basal         3 man days                                        K19, 800
Sowing                 1.5 man days          K9, 900                     K9, 900
Thinning/Gapping       1.5 man days          K9, 900                     K9, 900
Weeding                4.5 man days          K29, 700                    K29, 700
Planting Interplants   2.5 man days                                      K16, 500
Applying Teas          7 man days                                        K46, 200
Spraying               10 man days           K66, 000
Harvesting             9 man days            K59, 400                    K59, 400
Packing                1 man day             K6, 600                     K6, 600
Total Costs
Ripping                                      K346, 500                   K327,850 manure
                                                                         K304,350 compost *
Basin making
                                             K361, 500                   K342,850 manure
                                                                         K319,350 compost **
Man days are costed at K6,600.
The two different total costs reflect the land preparation method that is either planting in ripper lines or
in CFU basins as the labour cost for each operation is different. The organic costs are further split
depending on whether the farmer applies manure or makes compost.
*Ripping the field and applying compost made on the farm.
** Making basins and applying compost made on the farm.
The organic costs assume buying in of manure. If this were produced on the farm this cost could be
removed. The farmer would be able to save seeds for the inter-plants for the following years from this
year’s crop so this cost would be saved in the future.
    All costs are in Zambian Kwacha.

Income for 0.25 Hectare Cotton
Source of Income for 0.25    Conventional Production                Organic Production
Cotton 2500 kg/ha                  K531,250                         K781,250
Cotton 1000 kg/ha                  K212,500                         K312,500
Cotton 800 kg/ha                   K170,000                         K250,000
Maize 200 cobs at K500                                              K100,000
Sorghum 18kg at K1000                                               K18,000
Sunflower 15kg at K800                                              K12,000
Okra 10kg fresh at K1000                                            K10,000
Cowpeas 7kg at K4000                                                K28,000
Sunnhemp 15kg at K6000                                              K90,000
Dill 0.3kg at K 5000                                                K1,500
Coriander 0.5 kg at K5000                                           K2,500
Marigold 0.5kg at K5000                                             K2,500
Total Income for 0.25ha with       K170,000                         K514,500
yield equivalent to 800kg/ha
Total Income for 0.25ha with       K212,500                         K577,000
yield equivalent to 1000kg/ha
Total Income for 0.25ha with       K531,250                         K1,045,750
yield equivalent to 2500kg/ha

Organic cotton price is K1250 /kg; Conventional cotton price is K850/kg.

Profitability Table: Income less Costs For 0.25 ha
At these Yields                Conventional Production             Organic Production
2500 kg/ha & Ripping              K184,750                         K717,900 manure
                                                                   K741,400 compost
2500 kg/ha & Basin Making         K169,750                         K702,900 manure
                                                                   K726,400 compost
1000 kg/ha & Ripping              -K134,000                        K249,150 manure
                                                                   K272,650 compost
1000 kg/ha & Basin Making         -K149,000                        K234,150 manure
                                                                   K257,650 compost
850 kg/ha & Ripping               -K176,500                        K186,650 manure
                                                                   K210,150 compost
850kg/ha & Basin making           -K191,500                        K171,650 manure
                                                                   K195,150 compost