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STATE-RUN cotton dealer, Cottco, says it is ready to roll out a massive expansion drive this season, with over 500 000 growers to benefit from inputs under a new Pfumvudza Cotton scheme.

Managing director Pious Manamike told journalists in Harare on Wednesday that the plan was to boost cotton output and help processors utilise massive capacity that is currently lying idle.

The country’s annual output has been averaging about 120 000 metric tonnes per year.

The Cottco boss said the country’s white gold processors had an installed capacity of 450 000 metric tonnes.

He said under the Pfumvudza scheme, 522 000 farmers would receive State-funded inputs and grow the crop under smaller hectarages to improve output per planted area.

“We are riding on the success of Pfumvudza maize and we are introducing Pfumvudza cotton this year,” Manamike said.

“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,” Manamike noted.

Cottco indicated that it plans 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.

Cottco’s volumes ended at 82 479mt during the 2019/2020 marketing season.

After prices were battered by COVID-19-induced global lockdowns in 2020, cotton markets are positioning for a boom this year as demand firms under low throughput. With about 90% share of the domestic market, Cottco produces cotton under a contract system from thousands of farmers before processing it for both the domestic and international markets.

It also handles cotton produced under the presidential input scheme.

In May, the government said it was working on a plan to bring payments for cotton delivered to the firm up to date and give farmers impetus to return to the fields during the 2021/2022 farming season.

“Rainfall in the current agronomic season improved and was more widely distributed than in the past season,” said acting company secretary, Jaqueline Dube.

“Delivery of inputs to farmers also improved for the season under review.

“As a result, the company is targeting an intake of 150 000mt as compared to 82 479mt achieved in 2020. Lint prices which collapsed last year to a low of US$0,56/Ib during the COVID-19 pandemic have in 2021 firmed to levels of around US$0,88/Ib on the back of increased demand and low world stocks,” the firm said.

As at June 30, Cottco had taken delivery of 56 681mt tonnes of cotton from farmers, which represented 38% of its annual target.

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