By Edward Makuzva
COTTON, like Tobbaco is now treated as an export crop, as growers will get 75% of their payment in United States Dollars, Minister of Lands, Agriculture , Fisheries, Water and rural Development Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka said.
Dr A J Masuka said the seed cotton producer price for the 201/2022 marketing season for the government- funded cotton produced by COTTCO is USD 0.30 per kg and an additional ZWL 32,50 Per kg translating to USD 60 and ZWL 6 500 per bale.
The price is in line with regional cotton market price trends. The average cotton price locally, in the 80s, 90s has been oscillating within the US$0,30 cents per kg margin and has seen increased production.
“After peaking at 352 000 tonnes in 2011, cotton output declined to 28 000 tonnes three years later, the lowest yield in nearly two decades partly due to lack of adequate funding and poor prices.” Masuka said.
Furthermore, “Last year cotton production was at 137 000 tonnes, an increase of 66% from 91 000 tonnes produced the previous year, 2020 due to increased coverage of the Presidential Inputs Scheme. In the 2021/2022 season, some 116 million kilogrammes are expected for sale compared to 137 million kilogrammes last year. This is a 15% decline.” Masuka also highlighted.
The Agricultural ministrr said the production suffered from a false start to the season and a prolonged mid -season dry spell as he called for climate proof cotton production as a clear requisite intervention that had led to this day being a success.
Speaking recently at the launch of the 2021/2022 seed cotton marketing season , in Chitekete, Gokwe, Masuka added that cotton buying should be conducted under strict health guidelines in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Masuka highlighted government’s commitment to revive the cotton industry by introducing the Presidential Input Support Programme, highlighting the crop’s strategic importance for Zimbabweans capable of transforming the rural areas through rural industrialization.
“This is why government is focused on increasing its stake in COTTCO from 37,1%to at least 51% , while ensuring that COTTCO operations are fully devolved to rural areas so ginning and value addition and benefication can take place in rural areas to create jobs and accelerate rural transformation”, said Dr Masuka.
Speaking at the same occasion, Lillian Nyamasoka Managing Director of ShawashAgri, one of the leading cotton contractors welcomed the price saying it was a fair price, where as contractors want to boost the moral of the farmers.
Nyamasoka said she wanted the farmers to be very confident of their operations and continue and remember the competive nature of cotton farming so as to promote cotton as a competitive crop hence the desire to make the farmer happy and called for more land allocation for cotton.
“I hope the pricing will make things better, although as a company we also look at the government putting a lot of subsidies towards our operations as well so that we can bridge the gap and make sure that things will go on well across the board.” She said
Furthermore, “I hope going forward we will be in a position to get more land to put into research and development of the crop, it will make us all very happy at the end of the day and as ShawashAgri we shall hit the ground running.” Nyamatsoka highlighted.
Cotton farming is one of the biggest industries that suffered from low uptake after the land reform program and the events come a few days after Cottco bosses were arrested for corruption.