THE recent entrance of four new players to the cotton sector will result in the industry receiving more resources which will ameliorate delays in payments to farmers, NewsDay Business heard this week.

Recently, the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) announced that Agri Value Chain, Cangrow, Galaxy Cotton and Innovative Cotton (Pvt) Ltd entered the cotton industry taking the total number of players to nine.

News of the arrival of the new merchants comes as farmers are facing challenges in getting paid for their crop. Resultantly, over the first nine months of the year cotton exports fell 49% to US$11,64 million, from the comparative 2022 period, as farmers turned to unlisted players to sell their crop.

Thus, increased resources to the sector are expected to reduce cotton farmers dependency on these illicit dealers.

“As farmers, we are happy that more merchants are coming on board. This will no doubt increase competition which in turn benefits us as farmers,” Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairperson Stewart Mubonderi said.

“What it also means is that more resources are going to be channelled towards funding of cotton farming. We have no doubt that we will smash production targets. With the support from AMA, as the regulator and government, cotton farming is fast regaining lost mojo.”

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The increase in the number of contractors came after the country recorded a 61% rise in production this year compared to last year.

At peak, Zimbabwe produced over 350 000 tonnes of the white gold in the 2010/11 season and the government has since set a target of 300 000 tonnes by 2025.

Cotton plays an important role in Zimbabwe’s economic development and remains a key source of livelihood for thousands of smallholder farmers across the country.

AMA chief executive officer Clever Isaya confirmed that the coming on board of these new players means more resources will be channelled towards the production of the “white gold”.

“This development is testimony that the second republic’s efforts to lure investors are bearing fruits. Indeed, as His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa is always saying, Zimbabwe is open for business,” he said.

According to the statistics from AMA, more than 270 000 farmers are directly benefiting from the cotton sector while 600 000 are indirect beneficiaries.

Recently, the Land, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, and Rural Resettlement ministry revealed new modalities applicable in the production and marketing of seed cotton in the 2023/24 season.

The modalities require all cotton contractors to promote the climate-proofing programme Pfumvudza/Intwasa in anticipation of the El-Nino phenomenon this year.

“Pertaining to cotton, Cabinet wishes to advise the public that a total of 11 contractors have indicated their intention to contract farmers this season while nine contractors have contracted growers. The Agricultural Marketing Authority has completed the induction of common input distribution point clerks across the country,” Cabinet said, in a Press briefing on Tuesday.

“The targeted production is 271 286 hectares by 400 786 farmers with an estimated volume of 130 000-140 000 MT. Presidential Climate-Proofed Pfumvudza/Intwasa Cotton Programme and inputs distribution will utilise established GMB channels and committees at ward level with the usual ward committees. A monitoring system through Agritex has been introduced to monitor Pfumvudza/Intwasa from planting through to marketing.”