Cottco to venture into cotton farming

The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) has applied for 40 000 hectares of land in Mbire district as it seeks to venture into cotton farming.

Speaking during an investment conference held in Mbire recently, the company’s head of corporate services, Mr Benedict Muguri-Gumeni, said the demand for Zimbabwean cotton globally was high and they had applied for 20 000 hectares in Kanyemba and another 20 000 hectares in Mushumbi for irrigated cotton production.

“We have made an application for land in Mbire district so that we can venture into cotton farming,” he said. “We are looking at getting around 20 000 hectares in Kanyemba and another 20 000 in Mushumbi where we will do irrigated cotton.

“The yield per hectare that we will get from irrigated cotton is higher compared to the rainfed crop. Average yield of irrigated cotton is 2 000 kilogrammes per hectare. When we get our own land we will be able to set up additional ginneries to take care of the additional volumes that we will be producing.

“This means additional revenue for Mbire district and when we process the lint we will have cooking oil and stockfeed. With large volumes of lint we will move higher up the value chain and venture into textiles. The bulk of the lint that we produce has no takers on the local market. We have to export and we are losing revenue because there is no value addition.”

Mr Muguri-Gumeni said the venture would not affect its outgrower programme.

“There will be no conflict of interest since we will still be able to promote our outgrowers’ schemes while at the same time producing our own cotton,” he said. “There is vast market for lint globally. If the country is able to produce a million tonnes of lint today all of it will be bought.

“We will still be able to support the farmers. Zimbabwean cotton is in demand globally and we are failing to satisfy the market.” Mr Muguri-Gumeni said their corporate farming would go a long way in trying to balance the demand and supply of cotton.

“As the biggest player in the cotton industry, we have managed to regain the confidence of farmers by way of re-engagement and we have tried to make conditions favourable to the farmer,” he said.

“The Government has come in to promote the revitalisation of the industry. We realised that cotton yields had gone down drastically because of side marketing, making it a high risk industry. We still have issues in terms of policies to make it a fair industry and to attract investors.

“The more investors that come into the industry, the more competitive it becomes for the farmer. As long we have the irregularities it is not viable for any investor to come in other than the Government.”

Mr Muguri-Gumeni said they were targeting to register 45 000 outgrower farmers this season and were planning to establish additional ginneries in Mbire to complement the one in Muzarabani, which cannot absorb the current cotton production.

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