Southern Cotton Eyes Expansion Amid Rising Global Demand

Zimbabwe's Cotton Industry Poised for Growth in Export Markets

by Adenike Adeodun

Southern Cotton Company, Zimbabwe’s second-largest cotton firm, is gearing up for a significant boost in cotton production to meet the escalating demands of the global export market for lint. Following a challenging period marked by stiff competition from the tobacco industry and economic headwinds, the company is now on a robust growth trajectory.

After reopening in 2017 to support the Presidential Free Cotton Inputs program, Southern Cotton has made substantial foreign currency investments, earning the prestigious Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Most Improved Exporter of the Year award in 2022.

During a recent tour of the company’s operations in Shamva, Managing Director Caos Nzenze highlighted the promising prospects in the export market, particularly in countries like China. “The demand has been huge, and we are currently unable to meet it,” Nzenze stated.

Zimbabwe, a major cotton producer in Africa, exports around 70% of its lint, with the rest consumed domestically. The country’s cotton industry, predominantly involving small-holder farmers, is crucial to the economy, sustaining about 400,000 households and offering significant foreign currency generation potential.

According to a report by Newsday, Southern Cotton is actively increasing cotton hectarage across major producing areas and venturing into new resettlement areas, necessitating the establishment of additional ginneries. The company is also seeking funding for the refurbishment of its Shamva ginning plant, requiring over US$2.5 million to enhance production efficiency.

Furthermore, Southern Cotton plans to diversify into value-added products from cotton by-products, including cooking oil and stockfeed manufacturing. “There are investment opportunities in every by-product, especially with the introduction of cutting-edge technology,” Nzenze added.

With cotton production concentrated in regions like Gokwe, Sanyati, Kadoma, Muzarabani, and others, the industry is set to play a strategic role in Zimbabwe’s economy, offering numerous opportunities for growth and innovation.

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