THE government is considering awarding bonus payments to cotton producers to incentivise production and marketing of the crop in a development aimed at revitalising the textile industry in the country.Increasing cotton output is at the heart of the Cotton to Clothing Strategy that the government launched in September last year.
The strategy is backed by a 4.2 million euros grant agreement signed between the government and Comesa targeting value addition and capacity building programmes in the leather, clothing and agro-processing sectors.
Under the agreement, 1.2 million euros has been earmarked to kick start implementation of the cotton strategy.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made last week told Parliament there was a need to come up with incentives to boost cotton production.
“We want the farmers to benefit from the sale of their cotton, especially when there is a bonus to be paid after the cotton has been sold on the international market,” said Minister Made.
He was responding to Hurungwe West legislator Temba Mliswa who challenged him to come up with a favourable pricing system that will not short-change farmers.
Earlier on Mberengwa East legislator Makhosini Hlongwane had asked Cde Made about what plans he had to revive the cotton sector and the cotton industry in Zimbabwe from the supply side and the downward linkage industries in line with the value addition and beneficiation thrust of Zim-Asset.
“First of all, we’re proposing to revive the Cotton Marketing Board and this year, as you’ve already seen, the government is also giving inputs in order to support the farmers particularly on seed as well as the crop chemicals that have been quite a cost to the cotton farmers,” said Cde Made in response.
He said his ministry was also in discussion with the private sector and China to invest in the cotton sector.
“There are quite a number of companies that have come with proposals to resuscitate the cotton sector. We’re also working on the seed multiplication programme in order to improve varieties that would give a better yield,” he added.
Cde Made said it was not easy to determine the price of cotton for buyers adding the government would not “dictate the terms” but would talk of the terms of when to look at the inputs of cotton farming.
“That’s why we’re talking of hybrid cotton seed and we want to assist farmers in accessing the necessary materials and accessories for farming because we know the pesticides and other chemicals for cotton farming are very expensive,” the minister said.