Mask manufacturing boosts cotton sector

Local manufacturers present mask samples to the Minister of State for Investment and Privatisation Evelyn Anite (2nd left) and NDA board chairperson Merdard Bikyeterezo (3rd left) during a meeting in Kampala in 2020. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The growth, the report notes, has as a result pushed the level of female employment, according to Cotton Development Organisation, to about 50 percent, especially in the lower segment of the cotton value chain.

The cotton sector exhibited signs of growth between 2020 and 2021 amid a slowdown in almost all sectors of the economy, according to a report by the Makerere University Economic Policy Research Centre.  

The report, which was released last week, indicates that among the prioritised agro-industrialisation sectors, cotton exhibited resilience since the outbreak of Covid-19 supported by the manufacture of masks. 

According to the report titled “Towards sustainable development”, growth in the cotton sector was also supported by an increase in demand for medical supplies required to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

“To this effect, several factories have diversified their product portfolio to include both medical and non-medical masks,” the report reads in part, noting that companies such as Lida Packing have expanded, manufacturing at least 560,000 masks per day. 

Employment in the factory, the report notes, also grew to 315 workers, dominated by female workers. 

The growth, the report notes, has as a result pushed the level of female employment, according to Cotton Development Organisation, to about 50 percent, especially in the lower segment of the cotton value chain.

According to Uganda National Bureau of Standards, about 55 manufacturers have requested certification to commence production of non-medical mask thus pushing up projections for more demand in the cotton sector.  This, the report noted, points to employment opportunities in the cotton sector that will be supported by extension of sector products such as masks. 

While releasing the report, Ms Madina Guloba, the Economic Policy Research Centre senior research fellow, said the agro-industrialisation agenda offers an opportunity for Uganda to transform and industrialise its agricultural sector to create sustainable jobs as well as attain long term economic development.

“Ugandans [should] take advantage of this opportunity to industrialise and promote import substitution and boost the real economy,” she said.

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