Zimbabwe’s cotton output declined by over 50% last season, statistics from the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) show.
In the 2021/22 season, farmers produced 57 000 tonnes of the crop as compared to 137 762 tonnes produced during the 2020/21 marketing season, a 59% drop.
AMA chief executive officer, Clever Isaya, told NewsDay that the sharp decline in cotton output is attributable to flooding and a cold spell in May. He said:
Heavy rains and floods at the beginning of this season leached soils, then erratic rains which were received thereafter up to December (affected crops).
In January 2022, we had Tropical Storm Ana which caused destruction to both crops and animals, a cold spell quickly set in in May 2022 which affected the ball splitting of cotton.
Isaya also said payment delays in the previous season had “frustrated” some farmers while “non-destruction of ratoon crop in some instances perpetuated pest and disease prevalence.”
Payment problems have dogged the cotton sector in recent years, in some cases farmers have been given groceries for the “white gold”.
Last week the government announced new pre-planting producer prices for cotton farmers.
Cotton prices per grade will range from US$0.40 per kg for grade D to US$0.46 for grade A.