Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S cotton deliveries increased by over 40 percent to 116 025 tonnes last year and a huge portion of outstanding payment on the crop delivered under the Government’s subsidy programme has been cleared.
The country’s largest cotton buyer said this in its quarterly trading update for the quarter ended December 31, 2021.
Cottco said the third quarter, which signifies the end of the cotton-buying season, saw the intake of the white gold standing at 82 479 tonnes during the corresponding period in 2020.
“The third quarter typically signifies the end of the cotton buying season and the final intake stood at 116 025 tonnes compared to 82 479 tonnes in 2020.
“Whilst Cottco was able to pay farmers $3 billion from funding raised during the season, the company is looking to unlock a further $800 million to clear the outstanding dues to farmers after payment of the outstanding 2020 subsidy by the Government,” it said.
In order to ensure cotton farming remains viable, Cottco said the Government committed an additional $22 per kilogramme as subsidy payment.
The Government has introduced a subsidy programme in the cotton sector with a view to boost production as farmers across the country, in recent years, abandoned growing the white gold chiefly on account of low producer price.
In the latest trading update, Cottco said, “The total subsidy for 2021 is $2,53 billion and $500 million was released and paid to farmers during the period under review.
“The balance is anticipated shortly from Treasury.”
In the outlook, Cottco said the late onset of the rains this summer cropping has resulted in a sizeable crop being planted one to two months later than normal.
“The late onset of the rains has resulted in a sizeable crop being established one to two months later than normal.
“Depending on the length of the season and available heat units this could affect the maturity and fibre length of the output.
“Cottco’s ground staff are working with farmers to achieve the best possible results under the circumstances. The adaptation of precision agriculture under the Cotton Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme is also expected to improve the outlook,” said the company.
From 2013 cotton production declined due to inadequate inputs and agronomic support which led to low yields.
In 2015, cotton hit the lowest production level to 28 000 tonnes leading the Government to intervene with Presidential input scheme to boost production.
Consequently, production of the white gold rose to 142 000 tonnes in 2018 before tumbling to 70 000 tonnes in 2019 due to drought. – @SikhulekelaniM1.