Presidential Cotton Free Inputs Scheme, doubles cotton output

Harare – Cotton production has surpassed last year’s output with over 112 000 tonnes delivered so far to COTTCO depots countrywide, the company’s Managing Director, Pius Manamike has said.

According to Manamike the growth in cotton output, which is double the 54 000 tonnes produced last year, has been attributed to the Presidential Cotton Free Inputs Scheme.

He said cotton production continues to leap with latest statistics indicating deliveries to the COTTCO depots have doubled when compared to those of last year.

In an interview with the State broadcaster ZBC News, Manamike confirmed the development.

“Yes we can confirm that the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe received about 112 000 tonnes as compared to 54 000 tonnes last year. This is great improvement, we expected that this year national output will reach 120 000 tonnes compared to 74 000 produced by all players in the sector last year. It’s a positive development which can see the country returning its status as one of the biggest producers of quality cotton by world standards.”

Manamike added that COTTCO is now concentrating on educating farmers to focus on improving yields.

He said farmers used to plant 22 000 plants instead of 33 000 plants which is recommended per hectare a move which will see output going up.

With the timely launch of the Presidential Cotton Free Inputs which have seen most farmers receiving seed and fertiliser well ahead the onset of the rains and more farmers coming on board, the production of the white gold is set for a major boom.

The cotton input subsidy was launched in 2015 when production declined to 28 000 tonnes, the lowest in nearly two decades.

The programme, which saw Government disbursing free inputs worth more than $130 million has resulted in the recovery of the industry.

Under the program 400 farmers are receiving inputs including basal and top dressing fertilisers, planting seed and chemicals enough to cover a hectare.

This means about 400 000 hectares will be put under cotton.

The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe almost collapsed in 2014 after it ran into serious operational and financial challenges.

The Government came to the rescue after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, through Zimbabwe Asset Management Company took over its massive $53 million debt.

Since then, the fortunes of the company gradually transformed positively with all its ginneries in Chiredzi, Muzarabani, Gokwe, Chinhoyi, Sanyati and Kadoma now operational.

Overwhelmed by huge intake volumes, Cottco has entered into toll ginning arrangements with some private players, which are processing raw cotton on its behalf.

The tremendous growth witnessed in the cotton sector comes at time demand for the high quality handpicked white gold has gone up on the international market.

Zimbabwe’s cotton has triggered competition on the world market with both the European and Asian giants’ reportedly expressing keen interest to buy the high quality handpicked cotton produced by the smallholder farmers from various parts of the country.

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