Zim eyes surge in cotton production

The expert attributed the big jump in production to good rains as well as timely planting and improved supply of inputs.

“The other contributory factor is that unlike other crops, the cotton industry is the only agricultural sector that has not been affected by the ongoing land reform programme,” Obert Jiri, a former official of Cottrade, said.

He said cotton was mainly produced by small-holder farmers who are in areas where there has not been any resettlement.

“The farmers produce the seed and land is also available for them to produce cotton,” he said.

The government of Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform programme in 2000 and the exercise saw some tobacco, citrus and sugar cane farms being acquired for resettlement of black people.

Production of these crops has significantly declined due to, among other factors, the disturbances associated with the acquisition process as well as lack of skills and training among new farmers.

Jiri said cotton prices were also better than last year due to the huge demand for the country’s fresh crop.

Prices were at US$0,57 per pound (Z$ 16 000 per kg) when the selling season started around May but have since appreciated to US$ 1 per kg.

Prices averaged US$ 0, 80 cents per kg in 2005.

Jiri said other cotton-producing countries were in their off- season and Zimbabwe was the only country offering the crop at the moment.

“Merchants are rushing for the Zimbabwean crop which is still fresh.

“Cotton producing countries in America only start producing around September and cotton industries in other African countries have collapsed,” he said.

Jiri said cotton industries in Uganda and Tanzania, Zimbabwe’s competitors in the region, had collapsed due to lack of regulatory frameworks to govern the industries.

Cotton is one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners. ‘ New Ziana.

July 2006
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