Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
BULAWAYO-BASED textile firm, Cotton Pro Company is excited by the support it is receiving from the Government and would leverage on such backing to boost production and exports in the economy.
The textile manufacturing concern, which has a joint management contract with Natural Yarns — a consortium of local investors who have bought spinning assets from Cotton Printers, has capacity to produce 2,6 million metres of fabric annually.
Cotton Pro Company (CPC) managing director Mr Tararama Gutu told Business Chronicle that his organisation has responded to the Government’s call to set up a vehicle to resuscitate the textile industry.
The opportunity was on the back of excess and underutilised capacity in the textile industry, while the country continued to import simple textile fabrics for the local market.
“In support of our operations, the Ministry of Industry has placed our company on its 100 days monitoring programme which began in January 2022.
“The ministry is assisting our operations by offering us support in different areas concerning our operations so that we can focus on core issues concerning our business,” he said.
The textile manufacturing company needs US$500 000 working capital and funding for the acquisition of new machinery.
Mr Gutu said the Government, through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, has directed them to the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ) for funding.
“In addition, the ministry (Industry and Commerce) will assist us in ensuring we can access SDR (Special Drawing Rights) funding from the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
On account of the major challenges induced by the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to rebuild reserves, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year availed a total of US$650 billion in SDRs to member countries.
This was aimed at enabling the global economy cope with the adverse effects of the pandemic.
Zimbabwe has received an injection of around US$1 billion of the SDRs from IMF and Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has declared that part of that funding would be channeled to the productive sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and mining.
In 2020, CPC bought some textile weaving machines from the former Cotton Printers and took a chance by setting up a textile factory again here in Bulawayo.
“We have a capacity of 2,6 million metres of fabric a year. We sought support from the market and we were surprised by the supportive response.
The weaving plant is now ready to run. The spinning plant already has orders for high-end cotton yarns from textile knitting and weaving businesses in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana,” said Mr Gutu.
In line with the recent drive to add value to Zimbabwean cotton, the CPC boss said the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) was said to be looking at creating smart partnerships with the local textile industry.
Against this background, Cottco has agreed to place orders with CPC for fabrics for packaging in support of industry in Bulawayo, saving the country millions of the much-needed foreign currency.
“CPC has been supplying bale fabrics to local ginneries including Cottco for over three years now; Southern Cotton Company also supported us with the same orders for bale fabrics.
“This is despite the fact that many ginneries are mulling switching over to plastic owing to shortages of the same fabrics. Some clients from South Africa, Zambia, and Eastern Africa have been making enquiries for bale fabric made of local cotton,” he said.
Mr Gutu said he believes his organisation can work with local industry on several fronts including import substitution of different fabrics currently being imported which effectively export jobs.
“Our weaving is versatile, we are fortunate that technology in weaving has not really changed much, and that we are able to offer diversified ranges of goods from bed linen and school wear fabrics.
“We are exploring the opportunity to offer substitution fabrics for tobacco and cotton bales, thus saving millions of dollars in import duties, the details of this project have been presented to the Government.
“In support of the President’s initiatives for devolution and for industry to increase capacity, we are committed to scale our operations and create at least 30 to 60 jobs within the next 100 days,” he said.
CPC and Natural Yarns targets US$4 to US$5 million worth of exports of yarns and fabrics this year.
The two entities are also hopeful to start commercial and small-scale cotton production in Matebeleland in the 2022-2023 agricultural season. — @KazungaOliver