The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO) says it has paid farmers US$19.6 million and $7.2 billion with outstanding dues expected to be cleared by 31 March 2024.

In a trading update from 01 September 2023 to 31 January 2024, company secretary, Eunice Mupanduki, said liquidity in the local economy remained constrained.

She said COTTCO was unable to draw down to the full extent of available facilities, despite having adequate security. Said Mupanduki:

The company was, however, able to settle US$19.6 million (83 per cent) and $7.2 billion (18 per cent) of the farmer payments dues in the respective currencies with outstanding dues expected to be cleared from product receipts by 31 March 2024.

She said the final intake figures for the 2023 cotton buying season stood at 69 419 metric tonnes, which was a 48 per cent increase from the 46 748 metric tonnes achieved in 2022. Added Mupanduki:

To date, 58 326mt (84 per cent) of seed cotton has been ginned with only 1 066mt (two per cent) having been toll ginned in the Lowveld due to the high volumes in that area.

Local and offshore lint customer collections are still underway with 7 776mt of lint in stock.

Ginned seed on hand is 4 642mt and upliftment by seed suppliers and oil expressors is underway.

475mt of lint has been converted to yarn since April 1 2023 to date.

She said erratic power supplies in the last quarter of 2023 delayed the completion of ginning.

COTTCO is expecting to break even, in US dollar terms, for the year ended 31 March 2024.

Mupanduki said the Government’s 37.1 per cent shareholding in COTTCO Holdings Limited, previously held in the name of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is now held through Mutapa Investment Fund.

The Government, through COTTCO, is the major financier of cotton production in the country.