Zimbabwe hits record cotton output

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Zimbabwe forecasts cotton production for the current 2020/21 season will likely surpass 150 000 tonnes, the highest yield in nearly five years on increased inputs subsidies and good rains.

Last week, Cottco said its own production for this year is expected to increase by 82 percent from 83 000 a year ago to 150 000 tonnes.

It’s intake generally reflects the national output as it controls 90 percent of the market.

The company administers the Presidential Inputs Scheme, which started in 2015 meant to expand cotton production and also assist rural and vulnerable families.

Under the scheme, farmers get free inputs such as seed, fertilisers and agro chemicals.

The scheme saw cotton production growing from 28 000 tonnes in 2015, the lowest output in almost two decades. At peak, Zimbabwe produced 351 000 tonnes in 2011.

“We expect output to surpass 150 000 tonnes this year; we will probably hit 170 000 tonnes with the other volume coming from private players,” said a senior official with Cotton Ginners Association.

As at June 30, Cottco had bought about 57 000 tonnes, being 38 percent of its intake target.

This current season, the Government will pay nearly $3,5 billion in subsidies to cotton farmers supported by the Government this year. Cottco said it was looking to roll out the high yielding varieties on a larger scale next season to improve volumes and viability. The hybrid seed has already been tested and output was more than double the yield per hectare compared with open pollinate varieties.

On outstanding payments to farmers on last year’s deliveries, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told post Cabinet briefing last week that outstanding payments were being made.

A total of $220 million and US$659 000 had already been paid.

The balances arose as a support price to farmers to encourage increased cotton production.

At the beginning of the selling season, farmers were owed about $1,5 billion.

Government owns 37 percent in Cottco and intends to raise its shareholding to 51 percent.