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Cotton sector benefits over 270 000 farmers during 2022/23 season

Cotton sector benefits over 270 000 farmers during 2022/23 season

The cotton sector benefited more than 270 000 farmers during the 2022/23 season while 600 000 people benefited indirectly, buttressing its strategic importance towards the attainment of an upper middle-class economy by 2030, the Agricultural Marketing Authority has said.

Cotton is one of the country’s major agricultural export commodities and is largely grown by smallholder farmers supported under the Presidential Free Inputs Scheme.

To celebrate the importance of the crop, tomorrow AMA joins the globe to commemorating World Cotton Day.

It is annually celebrated on October 7.

“The day is meant to raise awareness on the need for market access for cotton and cotton-related products, foster sustainable trade policies and enable developing countries to benefit from the cotton value chain.

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“The event also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to celebrate the importance of the cotton sector for the attainment of an upper middle-class economy by 2030,” AMA said in a statement.

This year’s theme, “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 from the cotton sector while up to 600 000 people are indirect beneficiaries”

AMA said this year’s World Cotton Day celebration comes at a time when it has recorded the entrance of three new players – Cangrow, Agri Value Chain and Galaxy Cotton in the sector, joining the traditional merchants namely Cottco, Zimbabwe Cotton Consortium, Alliance Ginneries, ShawashiAgri, New Cotton Company and Southern Cotton bringing the number of players to nine for the forthcoming 2022/23 production season.

As mandated by Section 5 of the Agricultural Marketing Act (Chapter 18:24), AMA is responsible for the overall regulation of the production, buying or processing of all agricultural products, including cotton.

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“In this regard, AMA is promoting contract production of cotton as well as 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, the Government of Zimbabwe has also funded cotton production through the Presidential Input Scheme, and this saw a 61 percent increase in production this year as compared to last season,” added AMA.

Running for the eighth straight season, the State-assisted scheme has seen cotton production recovering.

Nearly 350 000 farmers were contracted to grow cotton under the Presidential Inputs Scheme last year and planted about 250 000 hectares. Apart from free inputs, farmers also receive tillage services and agronomy support.

The scheme helped to fill in the gap left by private contractors who scaled down funding citing poor recoveries on their investments due to side marketing.

The scheme has helped the revival of the cotton industry, a major source of livelihood for rural farmers.

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At peak, Zimbabwe produced 351 000 tonnes of cotton in the 2010/11 season and the Government has since set a target to raise production to 300 000 tonnes by 2025.

– Herald

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