ZIMBABWE is set to register a good cotton harvest next year as figures from the Cotton Ginners' Association show that more than 8 000 tonnes of seed have been sold. This is despite the general feeling in some quarters that most farmers would not take up cotton production this season due to low prices at which the crop was bought this year.
According to statistics from the CGA, about 8 200 tonnes of seed have been bought by the merchants, a similar volume of the seed that had been sold this time last season.
This year, cotton output reached 340 000 tonnes, which compares well with a record production of 353 000 tonnes in 2000.
"We are on course for a good harvest," said an official with CGA, an organisation representing cotton merchants. "A lot is happening in the fields and we are quite impressed with the seed uptake. With good rains, we are likely to have good yields.
"Our main focus is on enhancing yields and quality to counter potential low international prices. Our members have responded to this cause by deploying more field officers to impart knowledge to farmers on viable farming practices to achieve good yields."
Government had projected cotton output would decline from 340 000 tonnes to 283 000 tonnes this year, because the fall in the international price of cotton, from about US$0,85c in 2011 to US$0,45c this year, would have a negative bearing on cotton production.
This year's selling season was delayed as farmers and ginners disagreed on the lint prices.
The delay compromised contract farming loan recovery rates as some farmers opted to side-market their produce to buyers who were offering better prices.
Last year, contractors invested US$43 million in financing cotton production through various contract farming schemes.