THE 2015/2016 cotton production estimates indicate that the country will this year produce between 70 000 and 80 000 tonnes of cotton, down from 104 000 tonnes produced last season.
The decline in output is due to poor prices and a marketing regime that cotton growers feel favours merchants against farmers.
Some experts, however, feel yields per hectare have been too low among cotton farmers to allow for good harvest and consequently profitability.
Experts have repeatedly urged farmers to increase yields from the current 850 kilogrammes per hectare to at least 1 500 kg per hectare, considering the fact that the country has the potential to produce 600 000 tonnes of cotton per annum.
Despite the perennial price disputes, cotton remains the country’s second largest foreign currency earner from the agricultural sector after tobacco; but the labour intensive crop is under threat as buyers fail to provide a sustainable price to farmers.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) weekly market guide indicated that the cotton marketing season had kicked off with the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) buying the crop at US$0,30 per kilogramme while other independent cotton ginners such as Alliance, Sino-Zimbabwe, ETG, China Africa and Grafax are buying the crop at US$0,36 per kilogramme.