Gokwe regains place as top cotton producer

HARARE - Gokwe has regained its lost status as the country’s principal cotton producing district after delivering a staggering 31 million kg of the crop so far.

Statistics released by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) for August show that 60 million kg of the cash crop was delivered to the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) as at August 4, with Gokwe District contributing 51 percent of that.

This is a vast improvement from the 19 million kg that were delivered during the same period last year, suggesting that the industry is on the rebound following years of poor production mainly related to shortage of funds and a global trade crunch.

Deliveries are expected to improve over the next three months as more farmers bring their crop in.

Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe provided free inputs under the Presidential Input Scheme, covering 300 000 hectares, worth $43 million.

Gokwe outdid other traditional cotton producing districts in the country such as Mbire, which is second with a 7,8 million kg (13 percent) output and Chiredzi, which is in third place after delivering 4,2 million kg (seven percent).

Kadoma has contributed 3,6 million kg (six percent) while Chipinge has delivered five percent of the crop, an equivalent of 3 million kg.

Mt Darwin and Mwenezi districts, in Mashonaland Central and Masvingo provinces respectively, contributed three percent each, equivalent to 1,8 million kg.

Rushinga has delivered 1,2 milliom kg (two percent).

Other cotton-producing districts, namely Bikita, Zaka, Guruve, Mutoko, Bindura, Makonde, Kariba, Hurungwe and Buhera have contributed 600 000 kg (one percent) each.

In recent years, there has been a significant drop in the production of the crop, mainly due to lack of financial support. Most farmers had also given up on the crop after failing to access payments on delivering their crop.

The situation was further compounded by a downward trend in cotton prices on the global market.

The cotton business sprung back to life during the last cropping season when government obtained a $26 million input grant from the Chinese government and from leading foreign companies China-Africa Cotton Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited, Sinotex and Sinozim Cotton Holdings.

The capital injection has allowed government to set the cotton producer price at a lucrative $0,48 cents per kilogramme and added differential prices as incentives, underlining the fact that local cotton prices have rebounded in line with global trends.

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