The Association of Cotton Value Adders of Zimbabwe (ACVAZ) has bemoaned the collapse of giant textile companies, saying it was affecting the local value-addition of seed cotton.
At its prime, the industry employed about 24 000 people, but less than 4 000 are now under its payroll, according to the Zimbabwe Textile Union.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Textile players, David Whitehead, Merspin, National Blankets, Karina Textiles and Modzone Enterprises have either shut down or are under judicial management.
“Our biggest problem right now is, while we are growing the crop, the scope of growth in the textile industry is very low. If I can give you an example, in the last season we (textile companies) only used about 8 000 tonnes of lint locally from a total of 40 000 tonnes produced. So we are using maybe 15% (of output) because the capacity is low,”
ACVAZ director Admire Masenda told NewsDay.
ACVAZ co-ordinates ginners and textiles players to ensure that local producers access lint requirements. It also monitors activities by textile manufacturers to ensure that the local clothing sector accesses cotton fabric requirements.
Due to depressed local lint consumption the remainder is exported, with estimates showing that lint exports had reached 45 000 tonnes in 2017, about 268% higher than the 2016 figure of 12 223 tonnes.
Before these companies collapsed, Masenda said the local consumption of lint stood at 35 000 tonnes or 35% of the total annual output.
“If we are to unlock the cotton-to-clothing value chain, we need to look at growing the local consumption of cotton lint to grow our textile industry.
“One of the things we do in the investment portfolio, we argue that Zimbabwe is the right investment destination, especially in the textile industry because raw materials are readily available, so investors won’t start from scratch. There are companies like David Whitehead which is under care and maintenance. There is Modzone that closed shop, but the structures are there. So if an investor comes, there is no need to building factories from scratch,” he said.
Masendo said government needed to relook its current model of giving free cotton inputs to farmers.
“What we are encouraging government to do is provide a leeway for farmers to be contracted to produce cotton like what tobacco farmers do.
“Tobacco farmers get inputs through contract and government comes in to provide incentives. The farmer is obligated and rewarded. For example, if a farmer is given two bags of fertiliser, he/she is confined to use those only even though the fields may require more, thereby impacting on yields,” he said.
Cotton production in Zimbabwe declined to an all-time low of 32 000 tonnes in 2016 from 84 000 tonnes in 2015, and 143 000 tonnes in 2014 after a decade-long spell of perceived low prices averaging US$0,30 per kilogramme.
Spurred by the cheap inputs being extended to farmers by government, seed cotton output considerable grew to 74 000 metric tonnes in 2017 before hitting 130 000 metric tonnes in the 2018 seed cotton marketing season.