Zim cotton output down 60 percent
Harare – Zimbabwe’s cotton output for the 2013 marketing season has tumbled 59 percent owing to poor rainfall patterns and a decline in the number of growers due low producer price.
Statistics released by the Cotton Ginners Association (CGA) shows that only 143 million kilograms of cotton seed were sold during the 2013 marketing season compared to 350 million in 2012. CGA Director-General, Godfrey Buka, said the association had set a target of over 250 million kilograms for the 2013 selling season.
“Our target was 250 million kg but this was missed largely due to bad weather, an erratic start to the rainfall season and poor distribution of rain in the growing season,” Buka said.
Buka said the crop was worth about US$71.5 million compared to US$129.5m for the 2012 crop. The average price of the crop was 50c/kg in 2013 and 37c/kg in 2012.
The 2013 marketing season, which began at the end of April, closed in August 2013. Depending on the season and size of crop, the marketing of seed cotton usually takes place over three to four months.
Buka said last season was one of the most difficult production seasons in many years, as the crop drastically declined due to inclement weather. “This was not only typical of the Zimbabwean cotton but there were similar experiences throughout the whole Eastern and Southern African Region.
“All the cotton producing countries in this region had a sharp downward spiral in cotton production,” he said. Obviously, Buka said, there were other attendant reasons for the drop such as the migration by some farmers to alternative cash crops due to the low market prices in the previous season but the bad weather was the biggest challenge.
However, prices paid this year were much more competitive than in the previous year,” Buka said. Cotton prices can be very volatile and African cotton growers produce about 1.3 million tonnes of cotton lint which is 6 percent of the world's production and the continent consumes only 1.5 percent of the world’s lint production.
More than 75 percent of local production is exported making domestic value addition insignificant. The local producer price follows the dictates of the international lint price trends where more than 95 percent of Zimbabwe’s production is sold.
In Zimbabwe, cotton production a source of livelihood for over 250 000 households, is largely undertaken in the drier parts of the country, which include Gokwe, Midlands Province, Muzarabani Mashonaland Central Province, Chipinge, Manicaland Province and Chiredzi, Masvingo province.