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Cotton is an unquestioned success of Zambia’s turn towards a market economy. After privatization in late 1994, seed cotton production rose from 32,000 metric tons (mt) to about 180,000 mt a decade later (three-year averages centered on 1994 and 2005). The number of farmers involved in the sector grew similarly, yields trended upwards (though slowly), and the country dramatically improved the quality of its lint, becoming the outstanding performer in Sub-Saharan Africa in this regard by the mid-2000s. Yet the sector has experienced two serious crashes since reform, both involving rampant credit default by farmers supported with seasonal input credit by ginning companies.


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