Cotton Company of Zimbabwe — Cottco Holdings Limited — reports that the total cotton intake for 2021 rose 40 per cent over the volume for 2020 to 116 052 metric tons.
The government-owned company with the largest cotton dealer in Zimbabwe saw deliveries fall short of the target of 150 000 metric tonnes for the year.
The volume for the 2019/20 season was 82,479 metric tonnes. Even though agriculture is considered an essential service, it was also adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company experienced some disruptions due to an increase in Covid-19 cases at the end of the third quarter, acting company secretary Jacqueline Dube said in a trading update for the third quarter to December 31, 2021.
The negative impact was reduced by remote working, and farmer training programmes were carried out through smaller groups as an additional precaution.
A lack of reliable power also affected the business. Power challenges delayed the ginning schedule, but 93 per cent of the seed cotton intake had been ginned by the end of the quarter under review, and production is now expected to end this month.
“Zimbabwean hand-picked cotton is in high demand and the company’s order book exceeds production volumes,” she revealed.
However, the late onset of the rainy season in 2021/22 may affect crop quality.
So far, a number of crops have been planted a month or two later than normal because of this phenomenon.
It is possible that the maturity and fibre length of the output may be affected by the length of the season and the amount of heat available. Cottonco’s ground staff works with farmers to achieve the best results possible, Dube stated.
The adoption of precision agriculture by Cotton Pfumvudza/Intwasa is also expected to improve outcomes.
Additionally, Cottco is considering unlocking a further $800 million to clear farmers’ outstanding debts following the payment of a 2020 Government subsidy.
According to the company, it was able to pay farmers $3 billion from funds raised during the season. As part of initiatives to support cotton farming and give farmers impetus to take on the crop in the next seasons, the government has released $500 million of the total subsidy for the fiscal year 2021, out of a total of $2,53 billion.
Treasury is expected to release the balance “shortly.”
According to Mrs. Dube, the government has generously committed 22 cents per kilogram delivered by farmers as a subsidy payment to ensure cotton farming is viable.
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