Zimbabwe’s biggest cotton buyer, Cottco, will soon announce pre-planting price, a senior government official has said.
Speaking at the cotton day celebration in the capital last week, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister, Anxious Masuka, said the move would motivate farmers as they target to produce 250 000 tonnes in the 2022/2023 season.
“For the first time in many years Cottco is expected to announce a pre-planting price to motivate farmers for higher production as the country aims to produces 250000 tonnes in the 2022/2023 season,” Masuka said.
He said the government would announce further measures at the “appropriate time” to transform the sector, “deepening and broadening participation up the value chain, accelerating decentralisation of ginning and value addition and beneficiation of cotton”.
Masuka said government was intervening to address challenges faced by cotton farmers.
Cotton farmers are currently being paid US$0.30/kg for their crop. Costs are estimated to be US$0.74/kg on average.
“Constraints to achieving higher productivity, include poor payment to the farmers, poor varieties at unviable prices, poor market linkages and high production costs, among other problems”
He said that government was in the process of rectifying these issues.
“Government is increasing its shareholding in Cottco to 51% initially, continuing input support to farmers, changing the inputs distribution model, changing agronomy support model to include farmer field schools and improving Cottco operational efficiencies,” Masuka said.
The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Paul Zakariya, who also spoke at the event, bemoaned the low producer price which is lower than those prevailing in the region.
He said the appetite for a farmer to grow any particular crop is always anchored on the producer price, that is the profitability of the enterprise. If there is no serious profit, there is therefore no reason the farmer should engage, Zakariya.
“So, we need to ensure that we polish these things up. Apart from inputs, farmers require working capital that covers labour and various other things, living expenses during cotton production, and all that is not covered. We need to ensure that there is a full package so that farmers produce,” he said.