In a dynamic move set to reshape the landscape of the cotton industry in Zimbabwe, Priscilla Mutembwa, the newly appointed CEO of Cottco Holdings Limited, is on a mission to revolutionize the company. Armed with a remarkable blend of qualifications spanning computer systems engineering, accounting, cybersecurity management, and policy implementation, Mutembwa’s vision is clear: to bridge the gap between cotton farmers and the corporation. In an exclusive interview with NewsDay Farming, Mutembwa shared her ambitious plans to leverage her expertise and qualifications to propel the company to new heights.
A Bridge Between Farmers and Prosperity:
Mutembwa’s tenure as CEO promises a fresh perspective for Cottco. Her extensive qualifications in various fields give her a unique advantage in managing the business aspects of the company. Her strategic approach aims to strengthen the relationship between Cottco and cotton farmers, fostering mutual growth.
Financial Innovation for Farmers:
One of Mutembwa’s immediate priorities is to secure vital funding to settle outstanding debts to cotton farmers. She has already begun engaging with Treasury, the central bank, and financial institutions with the goal of raising US$6.8 million. This move reflects a commitment to pay off cotton farmers and address their pressing concerns.
Paying What Is Owed:
Mutembwa asserts that, before discussing marketing strategies, it is essential to prioritize the welfare of cotton farmers by paying off the company’s debts. She recognizes the critical importance of ensuring farmers receive what they are rightfully owed.
Mutembwa recognizes that addressing the challenges faced by Cottco and the farmers is paramount. She applauds the loyalty of the farmers who continued to deliver their crops, even when financial support was lacking. Clearing the outstanding debt is just the first step in restoring Cottco’s reputation and ensuring fair and sustainable cotton production.
Tackling Side Production and Input Abuse:
One of the core challenges facing the cotton industry is side production, where cotton inputs are diverted for other uses or sold, undermining cotton production. Mutembwa is determined to curb this issue. She expressed concerns about the abuse of inputs by some errant farmers, resulting in the non-return of a significant portion of the distributed inputs.
Cotton’s Vital Role in Zimbabwe:
Cotton, often referred to as “white gold,” holds immense economic significance in Zimbabwe. The sector has witnessed impressive growth, with a 61% increase in production to 90,085 metric tons in the 2022/23 agricultural season. Factors contributing to this growth include increased hectarage, government support, and improved payment methods. The resilience of cotton, with its drought-resistant properties, bodes well for the industry’s future.
Challenges on the Horizon:
Despite these positive trends, challenges loom on the horizon. A forecasted global cotton surplus might lead to a reduction in producer prices, and the post-election landscape could result in reduced support for cotton farmers. Mutembwa’s leadership will be instrumental in steering Cottco through these challenges and ensuring the prosperity of the cotton sector.
Priscilla Mutembwa, the new CEO of Cottco Holdings Limited, is embarking on a transformative journey to rejuvenate the cotton industry in Zimbabwe. Her commitment to addressing the challenges, supporting cotton farmers, and promoting responsible cotton production is poised to take Cottco to new heights. With her unique qualifications and visionary approach, Mutembwa is set to create a brighter future for the cotton sector in Zimbabwe.
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