GOKWE, October 24 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s cotton production is seen at its lowest 30,000 tonnes in the 2016/17 season, mainly due to poor prices which has seen farmers migrate to more lucrative crops, an industry official has said.
Currently, the clothing sector is importing half of its fabric requirements after local cotton output dropped by over 30 percent in the last three years.
In the 2014/15 season, cotton production plunged to 102,000 tonnes from 136,000 tonnes in the 2013/14 season, while 90,000 tonnes were recorded in the 2015/16 season after an El Nino-induced drought and low market prices.
Association of Cotton Value Adders of Zimbabwe (ACVAZ) director Admire Masenda said the 2016/17 season will record the lowest output after the 60,000 tonnes harvested in the 1991/92 season, after a severe drought.
“Local textile companies will have to import cotton as there is no cotton in the country. Farmers have lost confidence in the crop because its pricing continues to be low and some have moved to other better paying crops like tobacco,” Masenda told The Source in an interview.
In previous seasons, the price of cotton has averaged 30 cents per kilogramme. In June, Agriculture minister Joseph Made said government would peg the price at 45 cents for the 2016/17 season and put 400,000 hectares under the crop.
In 2014, the government set out an ambitious five year plan to increase cotton yield by more than 70 percent and raise exports to 90,000 tonnes. The strategy entails sponsorship of cotton value chain programmes like clothing and textiles manufacturers rebate and imports management.
The government has also promised to avail approximately $36 million for cotton inputs this season.