Zimbabwe: Erratic Rains Reduce Cotton Output

Zimbabwe's cotton output is expected to drop due to erratic rainfall caused by the El Niño phenomenon and late disbursements of inputs, farmer organisations have said. While farmers received some free inputs under Government's input support programme, the yields will not match the seed volumes taken up by farmers due to poor rains.There was also a marked decline of cotton growers this season after many farmers abandoned the crop citing viability issues. Farmer organisations have estimated the crop size may decline to around 75 000 tonnes compared to just above 100 000 tonnes produced last year. In the 2013 /14 season, cotton output was 135 000 tonnes.

"We project output may decline to around 75 000 tonnes for obvious reasons; poor rains, late disbursements of the crop while some farmers abandoned production of the crop after some merchants failed to pay the top up balances after grading," Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said in an interview this week.

Last season, merchants and farmers agreed that the crop would be sold for a flat rate of 30 cents per kilogramme while additional payment would be made after grading.

However, Mr Chabikwa said some merchants failed to make additional payments, resulting in many farmers abandoning the crop. An official with Zimbabwe Farmers Union said while it was pre-mature to make firm conclusion on the expected output, "production will certainly be low." "The rains were not so good for us and some farmers received inputs very late so we are expecting a significant decline," said the official.

Cottco Holdings, the country's largest cotton company also projected a lower crop size this year.

"The late start of the planting season due to erratic rainfall caused by the El Niño phenomenon is likely to reduce yields compared to the volumes of the seed taken up by the farmers," Cottco board chairperson Cecilia Paradza said in a statement recently.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201604130259.html

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