Zimbabwe targets increased cotton exports to Belarus
Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cotton Company (Cottco) board chairperson, Mr Sifelani Jabangwe, has expressed confidence that last week’s visit by the Belarusian delegation would open more lucrative European markets for export of cotton and textile products.
Belarusian president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, was in the country last week on a three-day visit and signed several key bilateral agreements in the areas of agriculture, education, agriculture, and economic cooperation.
The delegation from Belarus toured Cottco laboratories at its head office in Harare and expressed keen interest in buying lint produced in Zimbabwe and signed a memorandum of agreement to further explore opportunities.
Cotton is a strategic crop that is interwoven into the rural economy and indeed, the national economy, as it is a cash crop for farmers, particularly those in drought-prone areas.
The crop provides lint for downstream textile industries and generates export earnings, while the cotton seed is used to extract edible oils for human consumption with the seed residue used in animal feeds.
Production of cotton can transform rural communities through the major cash crop with huge benefits to the economy at large as a major source of cooking oil for local consumption and cotton fibre for export markets.
In a telephone interview with Business Chronicle yesterday, Mr Jabangwe said at the end of last year, another delegation visited the country and took samples for analysis in laboratories.
The results proved that the quality of Zimbabwe’s cotton lint is of high quality, he said, adding that to that end, an initial batch of 45 000 tonnes would be shipped to Belarus at the end of the cropping season.
“The recent delegation showed keen interest in our cotton and as a commitment for a start of a new relationship, in this coming season. They will take delivery of three containers, each carrying 15 000 metric tonnes of lint,” said Mr Jabangwe.
The tonnage would be further increased if it meets set quality specifications, he said.
“This is an exciting development. Belarus is a European Union country, and that is a huge endorsement of our quality of produce. That would further encourage our producers to strive and meet European specifications.
“This is in line with our trust in increasing exports targeting European countries.”
This year, the Government has set a sliding scale on prices with the best grade getting the highest price as a way of motivating the production of quality cotton.
The 2023 cotton marketing season will see grade A cotton being bought at a price of US$0, 46 per kilogramme while grade B will fetch US$0, 43. Grade C will be sold at US$0, 41 per kilogramme while grade D receives US$0, 40.
This is a marked improvement from last year when seed cotton was bought at the same grade D price of US$0, 30 plus $32 per kilogramme.
Mr. Jabangwe said it will be imperative for producers to embrace value addition in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) as that would attract investors and upscale production levels.
“We also encourage producers to embrace the value addition concept. This is an opportunity to further attract foreign investors in the production value chain,” he said.
NDS1 targets to enhance the value of locally-manufactured products and empower rural communities.
The intervention dovetails with President Mnangagwa’s vision for the country to achieve a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income society by 2030.
Belarusian Aleksandr Lukashenko was on a state visit last week and signed several key bilateral agreements in the areas of agriculture, education, agriculture, and economic cooperation.