THE Zambia Cotton Ginners Association (ZCGA) has condemned the burning of more than 11, 000 tonnes of cotton by angry farmers in Eastern Province.
ZCGA Executive Secretary, Bourne Chooka said such acts would not help to solve the pricing problem the industry was faced with.
Mr Chooka said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that all stakeholders should take the counsel of President Michael Sata not to resort to burning cotton fields but seek dialogue that would lead to an agreeable outcome among concerned parties.
"For ginners, our losses will be colossal because we have more than K90 billion in loans advanced to growers during the planting season. Therefore, the argument that buyers are under-cutting growers is not compelling at all," he said.
Mr Chooka urged the farmers to deliver the crop to mitigate further losses while a solution to the pricing was sought.
He said ginners had stressed that a price of K1, 600 per kilogramme was realistic in the prevailing market and compared favourably in the region which included Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
He said historically, from 1912 until 2012, cotton averaged 56.5 Zambia cents/1b, reaching an all-time once-in-a-lifetime high in March 2011.
The drop from last years' high translated to a whopping 69.6 per cent.
Mr Chooka said currently the world lint price was about $72 cents/1b compared to around $150 cents this time last year.
Meanwhile, the Department for International Development (DFID) initiated and funded International Growth Centre (ICG) estimates potential loss of 19 per cent agricultural GDP.
ICG projects that cotton generates significant commercial activity throughout the economy, accounting for 32 per cent of the value of main agricultural exports while the crop accounted for 19 per cent of the total agricultural GDP.
During last week's presentation of a working paper on opportunities and constraints of sub-sectors of cotton, coffee and sugar, ICG expressed the view that the current pricing could lead to significant drop in cotton production and related gains in GDP and foreign exchange earnings.
According to the ICG working paper, cotton provided direct and indirect employment to an estimated 21 per cent of the population and directly supported the livelihood of more than 1.4 million people.