THE recently-appointed Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) board says it will expedite the turning around of the firm into a viable commercial entity that does not relentlessly rely on the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
Last month, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka announced a new Cottco board led by an industrialist, Mr Sifelani Jabangwe who is also the immediate past president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.
Speaking by telephone yesterday, Mr Jabangwe said the new board’s strategic thrust would be to transform Cottco into a viable entity that does not persistently depend on the Presidential Inputs Scheme to sustain cotton as one of the commercial crops grown in the country.
“With regards to Cottco, the cotton crop is very important to the economy because of its contribution to exports, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and also the value that can be created through value addition.
“Our key objectives are as follows: transforming Cottco into a viable commercial entity.
“This is to ensure that it does not continuously depend on the Presidential Inputs Scheme so that the cotton crop is sustainable as other commercial crops that are grown in Zimbabwe such as tobacco,” he said.
Since 2015, Cottco has been administering the Presidential Inputs Scheme but has been losing significant amount of cotton to private players due to side marketing.
Mr Jabangwe said it was imperative to improve the operational efficiency of the company adding that in doing so, the farmers should be adequately compensated for the production of the white gold.
“This will be done in various ways perhaps introducing new varieties, introducing climate proofing cotton product and adoption of best management practices in cotton.
“In that respect, for the impact of cotton to really be significant, the other objective is to increase the output of seed cotton to 300 000 tonnes annually from the current 85 000 tonnes,” he said.
While improving the operational efficiency of Cottco, he said partnering and supporting other enterprises keen to participate in the cotton production and other value addition processes would also be critical.
“So, we will be looking at how we can support all those players within the cotton value chain to ensure there is a full benefit being derived from that crop for the economy and Zimbabwe at large,” said Mr Jabangwe.
Last year, Cottco announced that it had emerged out of woods and started paying off some of its legacy debts.
The firm almost went into liquidation in 2014 after the management declared the company technically insolvent.
However, the Government through inputs subsidies helped the company to get back on its feet.
In the past few years, intake figures for Cottco rose to 128 000 tonnes in 2019 from 10 800 tonnes in 2015.
This helped national output expanding to 142 000 tonnes from 28 000 tonnes, the lowest yield in nearly two decades.
Last year, Government set aside more than $200 million to support cotton farmers, the majority of them being vulnerable.