Chinese firm, Sino Zimbabwe Cotton on Thursday opened its $17 million spinning plant and ginnery near Hopley in Harare and said it was launching a $3 million input scheme for tobacco growers.
President Robert Mugabe commissioned the plant which the company hopes will double its 30 000 spinners capacity, depending on the supply of cotton, its ginnery is currently producing 25 000 tonnes of lint per annum.
The company’s chief operating officer Thomas Meke said they were targetting a 17 percent increase in output to 35 000 metric tonnes of seed cotton for the 2013/2014 season.
Sino Zimbabwe Cotton has been in existence for two years and has contracted 15 000 farmers from Gokwe, Chiredzi, Mount Darwin, Bindura and Kadoma to grow cotton.
It produces yarn and lint which is exported to China, Hong Kong, South Africa and Europe.
Meke told journalists that the company is venturing into tobacco growing for the first time this season and has plans to contract farmers for the 2013/14 season through its subsidiary, Dashville Enterprises.
“We will start the project this season with an input supply scheme targeting about 10 000 tobacco farmers,” said Meke.
Tobacco has overtaken cotton as the most grown cash crop in the last few years as prices for the latter crashed on the world market, rendering it too expensive to grow.
Currently cotton farmers are being paid $0,50 per kilogramme, seen as too little and many farmers have instead resorted to growing tobacco, which fetched an average price of $3.71 per kg in the 2012/2013 season.
Over 64 000 farmers have registered to grow tobacco in the 2013/2014 season.