HomeBusiness DigestFree inputs bolster cotton output

Free inputs bolster cotton output

FIDELITY MHLANGA
ZIMBABWE’S biggest cotton dealer, Cottco, said this week the crop’s output has been boosted by an input scheme supported by the government.

The State-controlled Cottco said output surged to 136 000 metric tonnes last year from 28 000 tonnes in 2016 as hectares under cotton were expanded due to the free inputs, which available to small-scale farmers under the Presidential Input Scheme.

Cottco alone increased output to 116 053mt six years ago, from 10 800mt in 2016, a 975% surge, according to a statement released this week.

The statement added that export revenues also increased during the period.

Cottco said it had expanded capacity utilisation to 100% during the period, from 10% previously.

The firm is now outsourcing ginning from other producers with idle capacity on a tolling arrangement, the firm added.

“The cotton presidential inputs scheme started in 2016. Seed cotton production volumes increased from 10 800mt in 2016 to around 116 053mt in 2020/2021 season,” Cottco said in its market update.

“Export revenue grew from US$4,5 million to around US$85 million in 2017/18 season. Cottco is expecting to bring at least US$60 million as export revenue in the current marketing season ending March 31, 2022,” the statement added.

Cottco said the Presidential Input Scheme was also benefiting many stakeholders in the value chain including the textile industry, cooking oil producers, transport industry, local authorities, government departments, suppliers in different categories and the retail industry among other stakeholders.

The company said more than 2,5 million people benefit directly or indirectly from cotton production every year in Zimbabwe.

The company said it is now employing at least 4 900 employees per season from less than 2 500 employees in 2016.

“The coming of the presidential cotton inputs scheme saw Cottco resuscitating the production of cotton in areas like Mutoko, Mutare, Masvingo, Buhera, Banket, Kwekwe, Mvuma among other areas. New developmental areas such as Tsholotsho, Lupane, Shangani, Insuza, Maphisa and Gwanda have been opened in Matabeleland South and North provinces because of the acceptance of the Presidential Cotton Inputs Programme in these areas,” Cottco said.

The company, which has been previously blamed for failure to pay farmers in time, said it was able to pay an outstanding ZWL$3 billion to farmers from funding raised during the season.

Cottco added that it was looking to raise more funds to clear outstanding dues to cotton growers.

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