Cotton production in Zimbabwe is likely to increase by 31 percent in 2013-14 season due to good rains in most parts of the country during the cotton growing season, the Cotton Growers Association has said, reports The Herald. Owing to good rains, cotton output for 2013-14 is projected to increase to 190,000 tons from 145,000 tons harvested in 2012-13 season, the association said. Cotton is one of the largest sources of foreign currency for Zimbabwe, but it faces production constraints due to lack of latest technology. The country is yet to officially adopt genetically modified (GM) crops. However, industry experts are of the opinion that the country could significantly enhance its cotton production if the farmers were given green signal to grow Bt cotton.
In Zimbabwe, about 200,000 small-scale farmers are engaged in cotton growing. Most of these farmers get inputs under various contract farming schemes, which provide farming inputs to cotton growers, who otherwise fail to get funds from banks and financial institutions as they lack collateral. The agreements signed between contractors and farmers are registered with the Agricultural Marketing Authority. Last year, a total of 12 cotton ginners extended around US$ 32 million to individual cotton growers, mainly through the supply of inputs. In 1999-2000 season, Zimbabwe produced a record 353,000 tons of cotton, but farmers interest declined thereafter as prices began to decrease. The next best record stands at 340,000 tons in 2011-12 season.