Cot­ton de­liv­er­ies amount to 19m kgs

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Harare Bureau

FARM­ERS have de­liv­ered 19 mil­lion kilo­grammes of cot­ton since the start of the sell­ing sea­son, the Agri­cul­ture and Mar­ket­ing Au­thor­ity has said in its lat­est com­mod­ity bulletin.

Seed cot­ton in­take as at Au­gust 5 showed 18,9 mil­lion kg of the crop had been de­liv­ered, down from 48,9 kg dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

In­dus­try play­ers have al­ready warned that this year’s crop size would de­cline to its low­est level in more than two decades due to the ef­fects of drought and late dis­burse­ments of in­puts.

Pro­duc­tion is ex­pected to be be­tween 30 000 tonnes and 35 000 tonnes, down from 102 000 tonnes pro­duced last year. This is de­spite free in­puts dis­bursed by the Govern­ment last.

The in­puts had the po­ten­tial of pro­duc­ing 130 000 tonnes. “The crop size is go­ing to be very low this year any buy­ers are com­pet­ing for the lit­tle avail­able crop,” said an of­fi­cial with a lead­ing cot­ton com­pany.

“This will be the worst harvest in 25 years. In 1992, Zim­babwe pro­duced about 52 000 tonnes of cot­ton as a re­sult of drought.

Cot­ton pro­duc­tion peaked dur­ing 2011/2012 when farm­ers pro­duced 353 mil­lion kg. The sec­tor used to sup­port about 400 000 house­holds, mak­ing it one of the big­gest em­ployer.

It is a ma­jor source of liveli­hood in com­mu­ni­ties such as Gokwe, Chiredzi and Muzara­bani.

Most of the com­pa­nies are pay­ing an av­er­age price of 36c per kilo­gramme.

While Cottco is pay­ing 35c per kilo­gramme on the spot, the com­pany is is­su­ing promisory re­ceipts to farm­ers in­di­cat­ing that it will ad­just the price to 45c kg.

Cottco, which is buy­ing the crop on be­half of the Govern­ment has bought about 7,1 mil­lion kg, fol­lowed by Olam (3,5 mil­lion kg), Grafax (2,4 mil­lion kg and Al­liance Gin­ners at 2 mil­lion kilo­grammes.

There was also a marked de­cline of cot­ton grow­ers this sea­son af­ter many farm­ers aban­doned the crop cit­ing vi­a­bil­ity is­sues.

Farmer or­gan­i­sa­tions have es­ti­mated the crop size may de­cline to around 75 000 tonnes com­pared to just above 100 000 tonnes pro­duced last year.

The cot­ton in­dus­try was vi­able un­til early 2000 when it was opened up to a mul­ti­tude of small com­pa­nies, which wreaked havoc in the sec­tor by in­duc­ing side mar­ket­ing.

This cre­ated chal­lenges with debt re­cov­ery, yield as well as poor op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies.

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