Story by Owen Mandovha
THE Zimbabwean cotton industry is on the road to recovery after massive investment in ginning which is being sustained by firming international prices.
Production levels of the white gold tumbled at the turn of the millennium on the back of weak global lint prices and local production challenges which resulted in massive disinvestment in the industry.
The private sector has however become the backbone of the cotton industry with a Shamwa-based cotton ginnery owned by Southern Cotton Company now capitalising on firming lint prices, averaging 90 cents since the beginning of the year, thereby spurring investment and ginning capacity at the company.
“We are this year going to gin over 60 000 tonnes of cotton whereby we have witnessed a jump in our processing capacity also assisted by the successful outgrowers scheme where we support local farmers with inputs. The company over the years has witnessed significant growth owing to firming prices which has made the growing of cotton very lucrative,” said Southern Cotton Company Plant Manager, Tinashe Storey.
Over the last few years, the company has expanded its outgrowers scheme, with thousands of farmers being engaged to grow the white gold.
“Yearly we are seeing our outgrowers scheme growing every year as we engage them to grow cotton because prices have recovered which has seem more of them getting back into the industry,” he added.
Local lint is now finding new markets with expectations the development will anchor the cotton industry value chain strategy.
“Besides our tradition markets including Germany, we are now supplying our lint to new markets such as Malaysia where our lint has become popular with international buyers,” noted Donald Musingarabwi, Quality Controller, Southern Cotton Company.
With the cotton production value chain now largely controlled by indigenous players, the sector is slowly gaining significance as an empowerment tool, thereby spurring government efforts to increase foreign currency earnings.