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Cotton farmers in Zimbabwe face tough times

Cotton farmers in Zimbabwe are going through troubled times. In the past they could pick cotton and get good earnings but after 1990 things have started getting worse. The liberalisation policies brought about by the 1990s economic reforms imposed limits on most cotton growers. They are no longer motivated to grow cotton.

It has become increasingly difficult to make decisions to grow cotton, to obtain credit, to hire labor as well as all productive activities, harvesting, delivery, and stalk removal. Many cotton growers can no longer afford to hire labor to spray insecticides in their field crop. Most have accused ginners, who contract them to produce cotton, for being insensitive and buyers for offering poor prices. As a result, cotton output has declined. Farmers shifted to tobacco production, which offers better prices.

Cotton is no longer the white gold that farmers once sought. Problems include poor market prices, high production costs, migration of young people to neighboring countries and high labor costs. In 1991, when the government liberalised the economy and began introducing reforms, thousands of cotton farmers were placed at the mercy of international commodity markets. Government subsidies were scrapped and small-scale cotton producers who could once depend on a meager but stable rate of return, now found themselves unable to viably grow the crop.