Zim cotton sector urged to follow the tobacco model

By Masimba Gomo

Harare- The Cotton Ginners Association (CGA) says the adoption of centralised system created and maintained by a regulatory body as the case in the local tobacco sector will help curb side marketing threatening the viability of the cotton sector.

CGA director general Godfrey Buka told The Southern Times that disorderly marketing of the white gold was one of the major problems hampering adequate investment in the sector.

“One of the means to achieve sanity in the cotton industry is for the regulatory authority to set up a central database of all growers and ginners such as the one developed and maintained by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB),” Buka said.

“At the moment only contracted growers are on the contractors’ database.”

There is need for a stakeholder holistic approach, (involving the whole primary value chain from farmer to ginner with the support services network of Agritex, research and training imparting skills on good agricultural practices), Buka said, to properly monitor the production system, focusing on yield improvement which will result in higher yields and more viable cotton business models.

“This will, in turn guarantee the farmers improved input packages for their future production. Simultaneously, this will make the contractor more confident to continue supporting the farmers and become a permanent investment partner. In the end, both the farmer’s and the ginner’s operations will become more viable,” he said.

Zimbabwe is among Africa’s 10 largest cotton producing countries despite a dwindling land area put under the crop last season due to falling global prices. On a scale of 192 top cotton producers in the world, Zimbabwe is ranked number 27.

The Southern African country produced 112 554 metric tonnes of lint (processed cotton) in 2014.

Burkina Faso, one of the first African countries to allow production of genetically modified cotton is the continent’s top producer with an output of 585 280 metric tonnes in the same period.

The West African country sits on position 11 in the world.

Contracting firms who finance about 99 percent of the country’s cotton output are also ditching the crop due to falling prices among other reasons.

In the 2015 cotton marketing season, 88 000 metric tonnes of seed cotton have so far been collected from farmers from an expected crop of about 95 000 metric tonnes. The crop size last season was 136 000 metric tonnes.

The decline in crop production is largely  also due to a myriad of factors which also include; inclement weather, poor distribution of rain in the growing season and farmers abandoning cotton as a result of competition from other cash crops brought about by low international prices.

The reduction in the crop size was not only typical of the Zimbabwean crop but there were similar experiences throughout the whole Eastern and Southern African Region where countries like Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique also had a downward spiral in cotton production.

The largest crop ever produced in Zimbabwe was 353 000 mt in 2000 but in the last two seasons, production has declined to 145000 mt and 136 000 mt respectively.

Featured Image:Godfrey Buka

September 2015
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