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Zimbabwe cotton output declines 52 per cent

Zimbabwe’s cotton output may decline by 52 per cent this year after a severe drought. The challenges affecting the industry include: mobile payment system being used to pay farmers; punitive rates charged by errant businesses that are heavily eroding farmers’ earnings. Farmers want cash to be made available to them in areas where there is no mobile network; lack of research and poor development of new seed varieties affecting productivity. Also, due to lack of proper regulatory enforcement, cotton companies engage in side marketing activities. While other cotton producing countries have already adopted hybrid varieties with high yield potential, Zimbabwe will this year, introduce hybrid varieties. Zimbabwe needs more varieties to suit various regions, rainfall patterns and soils so that production increases. One suggestion is for Zimbabwe to consider producing genetically modified organisms to increase production.

A scheme was introduced in 2015 to save the industry that faced imminent collapse after farmers abandoned cotton production citing poor prices and low levels of funding. The scheme has helped production to increase from 28,000 tons, the lowest output in nearly two decades, to about 1,42,000 tons last season. At its peak, Zimbabwe produced 3,52,000 tons of raw cotton in 2012.