The Sunday Mail
Cotton farmers have pocketed more than $30 million since the beginning of the cotton marketing season in the second week of May, and deliveries of the white gold have since exceeded the 54 000 metric tonnes that were purchased during last year’s marketing season, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) has said.
The marketing season, however, is still ongoing.
While cotton production bottomed out to 25 000 MT in 2015, Government support, through the provision of free inputs, has resulted in increased output over the past three years.
Distribution of free inputs for the 2018-2019 summer cropping season through the Presidential Inputs Scheme has already begun.
Cottco acting managing director Mr Pious Manamike told The Sunday Mail last week that the parastatal was paying $40 cash per bale, while the remainder was paid out through mobile money platforms.
Government recently increased cotton prices to US33 cents for the lowest grade to US40 cents for highest grade cotton.
“To date, Cottco has exceeded last year’s volume of 54 000MT and buying is still going on,” he said.
“We are paying $40 cash (bond) per bale and the rest is paid through the mobile e-wallet platforms.”
More than $30 million, he said, has since been paid to farmers.
Last year, Government, through Cottco, supported close to 400 000 small-scale farmers under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
The inputs package is usually made up of 8 000 tonnes of seed, 40 000 tonnes of basal fertiliser and 20 000 tonnes of top dressing fertiliser.
Farmers are also given chemicals.
The support facility has been running for the past three years and last year, output rose to 74 000 tonnes.
Production is forecast to continue rising as focus is now on increasing yields and productivity by each farmer.
Mr Manamike said: “The sector is responding positively and since the start of the programme in the 2015-2016 season, we are on a positive trajectory as volumes of the national production continue on an upward trend annually. The volumes will continue to grow as we focus on yields and productivity by each farmer.
“Government, through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, has already launched the 2018-2019 Presidential Inputs Scheme and we have started disbursing those inputs.”
The fall in local cotton production, which is considered to be Zimbabwe’s second-largest cash crop, has negatively impacted industries in the cotton value chain, including the local clothing sector.
However, the industry continues to be affected by side-marketing of the crop.