COTTON farmers in many parts of the country have vowed to abandon the crop, as the former white gold continues to lose its lustre.
Farmers in the Lowveld said growing the crop was negatively affecting their livelihoods instead of improving their lives.
“It is not fair on the farmer to continue producing or investing in something that does not bring the expected returns,” Simon Ruva of Checheche.
Most cotton farmers had been lured to grow the “white gold” by the attractive returns, but for the past few years, it is no longer viable for farmers to continue growing the crop.
Most farmers complain that cotton has pushed them into deeper poverty.
Farmers have therefore abandoned the crop in favour of tobacco and other lucrative cash crops.
In his 2016 Budget presentation Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa acknowledged the importance of reviving cotton farming, given the significant agro-linkages with the textile industry, and involvement of over 300 000 smallholder farmers.
“Cotton production, at its peak, was the major source of incomes and livelihood for rural communities around the Gokwe, Sanyati, Rushinga and Checheche areas, also accounting for close to a fifth of agricultural exports.
“The numerous challenges facing the sector resulted in cotton output declining from peak levels of 353 000 metric tonnes in 2000/2001 to 136 000 tonnes during the last season. In the 2015 cotton marketing season, the crop size further declined to 102 000 tonnes,” Chinamasa said.
Other factors undermining cotton production include the decline in international cotton prices, also against the background of competition from such substitutes such as synthetic fibres.
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