Cotton deliveries increase

Harare (New Ziana) –Cotton farmers delivered a total of 116 025 tonnes of the crop in 2021,up from 82 000 tonnes the previous year as newly introduced government subsidies and other support to growers begin to bear fruit.
Until the government stepped in to support cotton farmers two years ago, production of the crop, popularly referred to as ‘white gold’, had been on the decline, with growers shifting to other high-paying crops such as
tobacco.
The government now supports farmers with inputs such as seed and fertilisers, and also finances the purchase of the crop.
What particularly irked farmers in the past was that cotton companies not only offered low prices for the crop, but also seldom paid.
In a trading update for the quarter ended December 31st, an official of the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco), the country’s biggest buyer and processor of the crop, said output volumes had remarkably increased.
Company secretary Jacqueline Dube said financial support from government had also enabled Cottco to pay farmers much of what they were owed for crop deliveries, some of which had been outstanding for years.
“The 3rd quarter typically signifies the end of Cottco’s buying season, and the final intake stood at 116,052 MT compared to 82,479MT in 2020,” she said.
“Whilst Cottco was able to pay farmers ZWL3billion from funding raised during the season, the company is looking to unlock a further ZWL800million to clear outstanding dues to farmers after the payment of
the outstanding 2020 subsidy by government.”
She said government support had been crucial in reversing production decline, and revival of the cotton industry in general.
“In order to ensure that cotton farming remains viable, government generously committed an additional ZWL22 per kg delivered by farmers as a subsidy payment. The total subsidy for 2021 is ZWL2, 53billion and ZWL500million was released and paid to farmers during the period under review. The balance is anticipated shortly from Treasury,” Dube said.
Zimbabwe’s hand-picked cotton is most sought after on international markets because it was cleaner than that which is machine harvested, and therefore fetches prime prices.
Dube said demand for the country’s cotton on the international markets outstripped national supply capacity, an assuring factor for farmers.
“Zimbabwean hand-picked cotton is in high demand and the company’s order book exceeds production volumes,” she said.
International lint prices surged to a 10 year high in 2021, peaking at 119.2 US cents per ounce in November, compared to average prices of 56 US cents that prevailed in 2020.
On ginning and other Cottco value addition initiatives, Dube said power shortages had disrupted this to a small extent, with 93 percent of seed cotton intake for last year ginned by December 31st.
For the 2021/22 farming season, she said the late onset of the rains had resulted in planting delays with a sizeable crop being established 1-2 months late.
“Depending on the length of the season and available heat units this could affect the maturity and fibre length of the output. Cottco’s ground staff is working with farmers to achieve the best possible results under the circumstances. The adoption of precision agriculture under the Cotton Pfumvudza/Intwasa program is also expected to improve
the outlook,” she said.
New Ziana

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