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The Government has directed The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) to open all six of its ginneries across the country to address the shortage of wool packs bedevilling the cotton industry.

Four more toll ginning facilities in various parts of the country are also expected to be opened to receive cotton from farmers across the country in time.

The farmers receive the packaging material from Cottco for safe storage and operationalisation of the ginneries and it allows the company to empty loaded woolpacks for reuse by farmers.

Zimbabwe saw a 90-percent rise in cotton production this season, driven by success of the Presidential Cotton Inputs Scheme, but the global Covid – 19 pandemic and civil unrest in South Africa have affected the delivery of over 350 000 woolpacks procured from India to address the shortage of packaging material.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, said the resuscitation of all the six ginneries and opening of an additional four toll ginning points would commence soon.

“The woolpacks are a challenge because they are only manufactured in India and Bangladesh and we are unable to improvise locally. We have purchased an additional 350 000 woolpacks from India but unfortunately, we are unable to bring them to Zimbabwe as soon as possible because of the interruptions that have taken place in South Africa.

“The plan ‘B’ that we have as a nation is to activate all the six Cottco ginneries and to be able to engage four more toll-ginning points so that we can release between 6 000 and 7 000 woolpacks daily to be able to recycle,” said Minister Masuka.

He added that while the Government was working towards implementing the cotton turnaround strategy including by targeting 520 000 households to get inputs under the Pfumvudza Cotton Inputs Scheme, farmers were supposed to be forthcoming.

“As Government, we are not just pleased with a mere improvement but we want transformation in order to transform lives. The growth from 82 000 metric tonnes to the expected 150 000 metric tonnes is very good but not good enough hence the yields have to be high so that viability for the farmer is assured.

“The government is going to come up with a subsidy and although last year we gave a subsidy, there were delays in payment. I shall be engaging the farmers to hear from them if they have started receiving payments for last year’s subsidy as promised by the President.

For the 2021 season, Cottco will pay in three tranches; the first based on grades and that cotton attracts $56 per kg and the farmer is immediately paid $34. The second payment would be $22 per kg and the third payment only applies to farmers that have produced a quality crop of grade A or B which is $85,” he added.

Farmers that are owed by the government, Minister Masuka said, will be paid in four tranches and farmers that were fully paid last year will be paid in three tranches adding the government was committed to ensuring that cotton plays a critical role in the transformation of all households towards 2030.

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