via Cotton farmers to receive inputs | The Herald November 24, 2015
Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has announced input packages for cotton farmers, which will see thousands of farming households receiving seed, fertilisers and chemicals this season.
Distribution of inputs has already started, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Joseph Made said. The Government is targeting 250 000 hectares.
“We are going to fully fund our communal, A1 and even A2 farmers and we have already contracted Quton to supply 5 000 tonnes of seed,” said Dr Made.
“As Government, we took a position that we cannot allow the sector to perish.”
Having reached 353 million kg in 2012, the national crop size declined to 135 million kg in 2013 before increasing to 146 million kg a year later but fell again to 100 million kg in 2015.
The inputs package by the Government will make it the biggest player in the industry.
Economic analysts have been calling for the industry to revert to a State-controlled monopoly, Cotton Marketing Board whose mandate extends beyond primary cotton production to value addition in light of falling production. This, they said would improve yields due to the supply of the correct inputs package and agronomy support.
Yield growth will drive grower viability, improved debt repayment and the recovery of cotton production.
Higher yields and higher crop volumes will also result in improved operational efficiencies and competitiveness, thereby allowing higher producer prices.
Low yields lead to lower levels of inputs, debt repayment and higher levels of side marketing. This in turn causes losses for ginners resulting in a further reduction in the inputs package.
In the past few seasons the negative forces of poor debt repayment and side marketing have had the effect of decimating cotton production.
Dr Made said the inputs were being distributed through the Grain Marketing Board’s extensive network.
“Farmers should not despair,” said Dr Made.
“They have development skills over time and we will help them. We want to ensure viability in the industry is restored,” he added.
Dr Made also said it was important for Zimbabwe to beneficiate its cotton to get better returns. Value addition will underwrite global competitiveness and enhance grower viability through better prices.
With the Asian economies increasingly losing low labour cost advantage, there exists an opportunity for the country to revive the textiles sector using the advantage of ready access to raw materials as well as hard currency revenues.