THE Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Ltd (Cottco) is lobbying government to introduce legislation that will allow only those who help and promote cotton production to have access
to the industry.
“The long-term future of the cotton industry is under threat from people and organisations that have no long-term stake in Zimbabwe’s cotton industry,” Cottco chairman Nicholas Nyandoro said.
He said some individuals and organisations had little or no regard for the interests of the cotton producer.
“Their objective is to make short term gains by tapping into the export market for cotton lint, by taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s reputation for producing quality lint and they do this without making any investment in the industry or cotton producers,” Nyandoro said.
These “gate cra-shers” and dubious organisations had caused a high incidence of side marketing, he said.
In the last season, many members of Cottco’s inputs credit scheme chose not to fulfill their obligations to the company and instead sold a large part of their crop to itinerant cotton buyers.
Cottco estimates that up to 50% of nationally financed production was sold to these buyers, to the detriment of the company as well as risking the reputation of Zimbabwe’s lint in overseas markets.
“If this situation continues it will eventually render cotton production unviable in this country,” Nyandoro said.
Recently major cotton industry players who include Cargil and FSI Agricom presented regulatory proposals to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, which they wanted to be enacted into legislation to level the playing field in the industry.
The rules, which can be cited as the Agricultural Products Marketing (Seed Cotton and Seed Cotton Products Regulations 2003) would force companies to seek to compel seed cotton buyers, ginners and merchants of cotton lint to register with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
Cottco is suggesting that other players should come in and finance production of the cotton crop.
Nyandoro said these efforts were not being made to prevent new players from coming into the industry.
He said Cottco welcomed competition but insisted each player should meet its obligations by contributing to the financing of the crop and maintenance of good standards through a formal regulatory regime.
Cottco boasts the largest inputs credit scheme. Under the scheme, cotton farmers access credit in the form of cash or inputs which help them grow the crop.
Repayment is made when the seed is sold to the company.
Cottco has invested billions of dollars to protect the international reputation and markets of Zimbabwe’s cotton lint. The investment includes ginneries, handling facilities and state-of-the-art lint testing and classing equipment.