Factors that favored cotton growing in the Southern United States (U.S.A) include:

  • Favorable Climatic Conditions: The Southern U.S.A. had a climate that was conducive to cotton growing. The region experienced a wet season during the early growing period, providing the necessary moisture for germination and initial growth. The sunny weather conditions during the harvesting period facilitated the drying and harvesting of the cotton crop.

  • Fertile Soils: The presence of fertile soils, particularly the alluvial soils found in the Mississippi flood plains, provided ideal conditions for cotton cultivation. These fertile soils were rich in nutrients and well-suited for supporting the growth and development of cotton plants.
  • Cheap Labor Supply: The availability of a large labor force, including enslaved African Americans and later, sharecroppers, provided a cheap source of labor for cotton cultivation. The labor-intensive nature of cotton farming, especially during planting and harvesting, made the availability of cheap labor crucial for its economic viability.
  • Absence of Strong Winds: The Southern U.S.A. generally experienced less destructive winds compared to other regions. This absence of strong winds reduced the risk of damage to the cotton bolls before they matured and could be harvested.
  • Technological Advancements: The use of high technology, such as irrigation systems, helped overcome the scarcity of rainfall in some areas, ensuring continuous cotton production throughout the year. The application of modern farming machinery also improved efficiency in planting, cultivating, and harvesting cotton.

  • Arid Conditions and Pest Control: Some areas in the Southern U.S.A., such as parts of California, had arid conditions that were less favorable for the multiplication of pests and diseases that could harm cotton crops. This contributed to lower pest pressure, reducing the need for extensive pest control measures.
  • Market Potential: The Southern U.S.A. had a wide market potential for cotton, both domestically and internationally. The demand for cotton products created incentives for many farmers to grow cotton and benefit from the profitable market.
  • Sharecropping System: The sharecropping system played a significant role in the success of cotton growing in the Southern U.S.A. Landlords provided the necessary resources, including land, machinery, seeds, and housing, while tenants (sharecroppers) contributed their labor. This arrangement allowed cotton cultivation to expand, with landlords receiving a share of the produce as compensation.
  • Introduction of Modern Machinery: After the abolition of slavery, the introduction of modern machinery, such as cotton gins, improved the efficiency of cotton processing. This further supported the growth and success of cotton farming in the region.
  • Availability of Vast Land: The Southern U.S.A. had a vast expanse of land available for agricultural activities, including extensive cotton farming. This allowed for large-scale cultivation and contributed to the expansion of cotton production in the region.

These factors combined to create favorable conditions for cotton growing in the Southern U.S.A., leading to its prominence as a major cotton-producing region.



Cotton in Uganda It is grown in Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Tororo, Oyam, Dokolo, Amolatar, Kaberamaido, Iganga, Kasese, Apac and Kamuli.

In Kenya, it is grown in the Nyanza province near Kisumu and Bungoma.

In Tanzania, it is grown near Tabora, Kondoa region and in Sukuma land


Uses of cotton

  • Used to make animal feeds e.g. cattle cake.
  • Cotton seeds are used for extraction of oil for cooking.
  • Used for manufacture of textiles and garments.
  • Cotton wool is used for dressing wounds in hospitals.
  • Cotton seeds are crushed and used to make soap


COTTON in Uganda It is grown in Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Tororo, Oyam, Dokolo, Amolatar, Kaberamaido, Iganga, Kasese, Apac and Kamuli.

In Kenya, it is grown in the Nyanza province near Kisumu and Bungoma.

In Tanzania, it is grown near Tabora, the Kondoa region, and in Sukuma land.


  • The alternating wet and dry season for growing and harvesting respectively.
  • The relatively flat or undulating landscape for mechanized farming.
  • Warm or Hot temperatures above 20 °C for ripening and harvesting of the crop.
  • Fairly deep and fertile black loamy soils for the growth of the crop.
  • Moderate to light rainfall of about 510 mm needed during the planting season.

  • Large supplies of labour for planting and picking/harvesting of the cotton.
  • Large amounts of fertilizers to enrich the soil with favourable nutrients.
  • Proper storage facilities in the form of ginneries to reduce losses due to cotton stainers.
  • Adequate capital used for buying farm implements e.g. hoes and fertilizers.
  • Well sheltered from strong winds by practicing agroforestry.


COTTON in Uganda is grown in Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Tororo, Oyam, Dokolo, Amolatar, Kaberamaido, Iganga, Kasese, Apac and Kamuli.

In Kenya, it is grown in the Nyanza province near Kisumu and Bungoma.

In Tanzania, it is grown near Tabora, Kondoa region and in Sukuma land

Problems facing cotton farming

  • Pest e.g. cotton boll weevils and cotton stainers which destroy large parts of farms leading to losses.
  • Cotton diseases e.g. leaf rust also lead to poor quality output.
  • Political instability especially in northern Uganda that disrupted cotton cultivation for a very long time.
  • Climatic hazards like flooding due to heavy rains or hailstorms that destroy large parts of farmlands.

  • The collapse of cotton gunneries and factories which reduces the market for cotton.
  • Inadequate storage facilities hence loss of cotton.
  • Poor transport facilities linking to market centres.
  • Competition with synthetic fibres like silk and polyester which reduces cotton demand.
  • Inadequate labour force especially during the harvesting period.

Steps taken to solve the above problems

  • Establishment of cotton ginneries to create a market for cotton.
  • Development of transport routes linking to market centres.
  • Application of fertilizers to increase land productivity.
  • Improved political stability to ensure that farmers are settled down to cultivate cotton.

  • Application of irrigation farming to control weather failures e.g. prolonged drought during the planting season.
  • Research to develop improved cotton varieties that give off high yields.
  • Spraying to control pests and diseases



The following are problems facing cotton farmers in Kenya

Substandard Production Methods

Many cotton farmers in Kenya face the challenge of using substandard production methods. Limited access to modern agricultural techniques, machinery, and quality inputs can result in low yields and poor quality cotton. Outdated practices contribute to inefficient resource utilization and hinder the farmers’ ability to compete in the global market. The lack of proper training and education further exacerbates this issue, preventing farmers from adopting improved methods that could enhance their productivity.

Unpredictable Climatic Conditions

Cotton farming in Kenya is significantly impacted by unpredictable climatic conditions. Erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts, and extreme weather events can disrupt planting and harvesting schedules, leading to crop failures and reduced yields. Farmers struggle to adapt to these climate challenges, often lacking access to resilient crop varieties and sustainable water management solutions. Climate change intensifies these problems, making cotton farming more risky and vulnerable to environmental uncertainties.

Increased Soil Fertility Demands

Cotton cultivation depletes soil fertility due to the nutrient-intensive nature of the crop. Farmers in Kenya often lack access to proper soil management practices and fertilizers, leading to reduced soil quality over time. Maintaining soil fertility becomes a significant challenge, as continuous cotton cultivation without appropriate replenishment practices can result in decreased yields and increased pest susceptibility.

Pest and Disease Attacks

Cotton plants in Kenya are susceptible to a range of pests and diseases. The lack of proper pest management techniques and inadequate access to pesticides and pest-resistant varieties leave farmers vulnerable to yield losses. Pests like the cotton bollworm and diseases like Fusarium wilt can devastate crops and further strain the already fragile livelihoods of cotton farmers.

Labor-Intensive Production

Cotton cultivation demands intensive labor, from planting and maintaining the crop to harvesting and processing the cotton fibers. This labor-intensive nature of cotton farming makes it unpopular among younger generations who seek more efficient and less physically demanding livelihoods. The lack of mechanization and modernization in the cotton sector hampers its appeal to potential farmers, leading to a decline in interest and participation.

Low Cotton Prices and Lack of Incentives

Cotton farmers in Kenya often face low prices for their produce. The lack of strong market linkages, price manipulation, and competition from cheaper imports contribute to the depressed prices. As a result, farmers struggle to cover production costs and find it challenging to invest in modern farming technologies and practices. The absence of financial incentives and fair pricing mechanisms discourages new entrants into cotton farming.

Managerial Issues in Farmers’ Cooperatives

Cotton farmers often organize into cooperatives to collectively address challenges related to input procurement, market access, and resource sharing. However, many of these cooperatives face managerial problems such as mismanagement, corruption, and lack of transparency. These issues erode trust among farmers and hinder the cooperatives’ ability to effectively negotiate for better prices, access credit, and implement collaborative projects.

Impact of Second-Hand Clothing Imports

Kenya’s cotton industry faces competition from second-hand clothing imports, commonly known as “mitumba.” The availability and affordability of second-hand clothes reduce the demand for locally-produced cotton garments. This negatively affects the market for raw cotton and finished products, putting pressure on the livelihoods of cotton farmers and local textile industries. The influx of second-hand clothes undermines the domestic cotton market’s growth and sustainability.


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