BY SHAME MAKOSHORI
ZIMBABWE’S biggest cotton dealer Cottco, says it has lost 7% of the crop it funded this season under the contract farming system to black market kingpins.
Cottco managing director Pious Manamike said statistics released during a meeting with Agriculture ministry officials last week indicated that the practice of side marketing contracted cotton was increasing.
Manamike who spoke as the state-run outfit unveiled a Pfumvudza cotton scheme, which is modelled along the Pfumvudza maize scheme, said Cottco supported 92% of the white gold production during the 2020/2021 season.
However, so far, the firm had received 85% of the crop on the market.
This represents a seven-percentage point difference between the funded crop and deliveries.
“We have financed 92% of the crop, but the crop that we got is 85% of the crop on the market,” he said.
“So, we have lost 7% of the crop on the market to side marketing.”
Across agricultural markets, contracting firms have reported losing millions of United States dollars annually to side marketing.
Crops worst affected include maize, tobacco and cotton.
But contractors say they have also lost out in other crops.
In June, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board was forced to publish individuals and companies dabbling in side marketing activities to combat the practice.
Manamike said following the success of the Pfumvudza maize programme last year, the firm had decided to replicate the scheme in cotton.
He said 522 000 farmers were expected to benefit this year, with all beneficiaries expected to grow the crop under smaller pieces of land to improve management.
He said increasing the area under the cotton crop would increase output and improve raw materials throughput for domestic cotton processers.
The country’s annual output has been averaging between 100 000 metric tonnes (mt) and 120 000mt.
But the Cottco boss said Zimbabwe’s cotton processors had an installed capacity of 450 000 metric tonnes of the crop.
Increasing raw material will also improve job creation along the cotton value chain, the Cottco boss told journalists.
“We are riding on the success of Pfumvudza maize and we are introducing Pfumvudza cotton this year,” Manamike said, adding that value addition was a key focus going forward.
“Zimbabwe is value adding, but in terms of lint processing we are not doing enough.
“There is an opportunity for us to do value addition. We have to venture into value addition, but our focus will be to devolve into rural areas other than doing it in Harare.
“We need to work hard on value addition.
“Our (national) installed capacity is 450 000mt, but we are doing 100 000mt, 120 000mt. So, there is idle capacity in ginners.”
Cottco has indicated that it is to nearly double volumes following a good rainfall season, and export over 70% of its output.
The state-run firm said in a trading update for the first quarter ended June 30, 2021 it was targeting 150 000mt of the golden leaf.