to US Department of Agriculture, the southern African nation’s cotton
exports will hit 408,000 bales in 2010-11, a jump of 20% on those in the
current marketing year, which closes next week. ..Besides putting
the country back on the same page as other significant African
exporters such as Benin or Mali, bumper shipments of its cotton, which
typically attracts a premium on international markets, would represent a
rare fillip for a Zimbabwe farm sector which has become more notorious
for its decline. ..The wheat harvest in a country formerly known
as the breadbasket of southern Africa was, at 12m tones last year, less
than 4% of its peak two decades ago, according to USDA data. ..Production of corn, the staple food, which came in just short of 3m tones in 1984, was 650,000 tones. ..Zimbabwe’s
cotton revival follows legislation which has brought stability to an
industry which had been marked by its poor relations between farmers and
merchants, who provide growers seed and fertilizer on credit in return
for harvested crop. ..Farmers blamed merchants for scrimping on
the inputs they were obliged to provide, while growers themselves were
notorious for so-called side-marketing– selling crop to ginners other
than those they were contracted to. ..By bringing contracts under a
better legal framework, merchants to provide richer supplies of seed
and chemicals, putting farmers on course to raise yields by more than
40%. ..One major source of disagreement remains the price being
paid by ginners, with farmers considering the $0.30 per kilogramme
offered too low, threatening a continuing switch from cotton to tobacco
growing. ”