Victoria Falls — Zimbabwe’s cotton output is expected to rise to between 265 000 tonnes and 280 000 tonnes in the 2012 marketing season, up from last year’s 249 000.
Cotton is the country’s largest foreign currency earner in agriculture after tobacco and is a source of livelihood for over 250 000 families in the drier parts of Zimbabwe which include Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central province and Chiredzi in Masvingo.
Addressing delegates at last week’s two-day 10th Africa Cotton Congress, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Seiso Moyo said production of the white gold had been increasing since the mid-1990s following the disbanding of the Cotton Marketing Board which had a monopoly in the sector.
“The preliminary estimates for the current season are between 265 000 and 280 000 metric tonnes of seed cotton,” he said.
The congress was running under the theme, “Moving towards zero contamination”.
Last year cotton growers earned a total of US$200 million although bickering over prices that ginners were offering marred the 2010 selling season resulting in some farmers holding on to their crop while many others contemplated shifting to other cash crops.
Mr Moyo urged ginners to pay viable prices to ensure continuous growth of the sector.
“I wish to urge the cotton fraternity not to price themselves out of the industry by setting unviable seed cotton prices that would force farmers to invest in alternative cash crops,” he said.
He said the Government would continue to support cotton production in the country.
Speaking at the same occasion, ACA chairman Mr Iya Mohammed from Cameron said Africa should unite and fight injustices in the world trade.
“We need to come up with technical committees to improve the competitiveness of African cotton and find strategies since over 27 million people on the continent survive directly or indirectly through cotton production and its value chain,” he said.
African cotton is currently facing stiff competition from a subsidised crop grown in America and Europe as well as genetically modified organisms.