THE country will today celebrate World Cotton Day (WCD) with oil expressing companies coming into the fray as contractors in a move that will broaden farmer-funding options from six last year to nine this coming season marking a 50 percent increase.
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) revealed this in a press statement yesterday when it pointed out that the country was joining the rest of the world in commemorating the WCD.
“This day celebrated on October 7 and is meant to raise awareness on the need for market access for cotton and cotton-related products, fostering sustainable trade policies and enabling developing countries to benefit from the cotton value chain. The event also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to celebrate the importance of the cotton sector for the attainment of an upper middle-income society by 2030. AMA has registered three new players, namely Cangrow, Agri Value Chain and Galaxy Cotton in the sector, joining the traditional merchants of Cottco, Zimbabwe Cotton Consortium, Alliance Ginneries, ShawashiAgri, New Cotton Company and Southern Cotton,” said the statement.
This year’s theme of “Making cotton fair and sustainable for all, from farm to fashion” is linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 1) of eliminating poverty.
Cotton plays an important role in the economic development of Zimbabwe and remains a key source of livelihoods for thousands of smallholder farmers. Over 270 000 farmers were direct beneficiaries during the 2022/23 season while up to 600 000 people indirectly benefited. The crop has been grown in Zimbabwe for decades and is one of the most important fibre crops in the global textile industry.
As mandated by Section 5 of the Agricultural Marketing Act (Chapter 18:24), AMA is responsible for the overall regulation of production, buying or processing of all agricultural products, including cotton.
“In this regard, AMA is promoting production of cotton under contract as well as ensuring orderly marketing. Contract farming has ensured the availability of production inputs and a guaranteed market. Recognising the importance of cotton to the livelihoods of people, Government has also funded cotton production through the Presidential Input Scheme (PIS), and this saw a 61 percent increase in production this year compared to last season,” added the statement.
AMA is urging cotton contractors to diversify their operations into value addition, especially at provincial level, with cotton by-products generating sustainable parallel activities for income generation and employment creation. AMA remains committed to the development of the cotton industry through responsive legislation and the provision of a fair and transparent playing field in order to achieve sustainable cotton production and marketing.
“As we celebrate this day, all cotton contractors are reminded to abide by the regulations that govern the sector as they journey towards the achievement of Vision 2030 continues,” the statement pointed.
At last year’s WCD celebrations stakeholders lamented the continual decline in seed cotton grades and Government acted to improve the quality by introducing a rewarding grade-based pricing system. As the grading of the cotton is still ongoing it remains to be seen whether the quality has improved.
Meanwhile, a commentator who requested anonymity said the entrance of Cangrow and Agri Value Chian, which are oil-expressing companies was a welcome development as they heeded the call from stakeholders during last year’s inaugural WCD to finance local production of seed cotton to get cotton seed to input in their cooking oil business rather than depend only on imports.
“This is a welcome development as at last year’s WCD, Cangrow highlighted that they were into production of cooking oil using raw materials mainly imported from neighbouring countries and they were not involved in any contracting activities with local farmers. This will increase employment creation, save foreign currency on imports and allow the country to be cooking oil self-sufficient from local raw materials,” he said.
Extracted from The Herald.