Incoming Cottco boss expected to restore its former glory Mr Rockie Mutenha

Edgar Vhera

Agriculture Specialist Writer

AS the cotton marketing season kicks off with stringent merchant buying licence requirements, farmers are hopeful for a return to the white gold era under the direction of a new, seasoned manager at Cottco.

Coming just before the official opening of the 2024 cotton marketing season, Mr Rockie Mutenha’s appointment as Cottco’s acting chief executive officer has reignited hopes of a better marketing season among farmers.

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) duly announced the start of the cotton marketing season that is expected to run from June 6 to July 6. The marketing authority called on all merchants to first clear outstanding payments before they can secure buying licences.

Mr Mutenha brings in a lot of experience accrued in the agricultural sector following stints at AMA and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). He replaces Mr Munyaradzi Chikasha who was placed on leave.

Meanwhile, Cotton Council of Zimbabwe (CCOZ) chief executive officer Engineer Chris Murove has introduced Mr Mutenha to members of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Think Tank (ZATT) – Cotton Council Discussion Forum saying the industry would benefit intensely from his vast expertise in the agriculture industry.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Rockie Mutenha on behalf of CCOZ for his appointment as the new CEO of Cottco. We have every confidence that he will make a positive difference to the fortunes of Cottco and the Zimbabwean cotton sector in general.

“As cotton farmers’ representatives, we will render him all the support that we can to make his tenure a success,” the CCOZ boss said.

A member of the think-tank group who did not reveal his/her identity added: “I do concur with Eng Murove, Mr Mutenha is the man who will make the sector’s wheels turn in the right direction. Every new beginning is an opportunity to renew relationships and inject energy and enthusiasm into our collective enterprise.”

Cotton Producers and Marketers Association (CPMA) chairman, Mr Stewart Mubonderi also added his voice saying Mr Mutenha’s appointment was a welcome development and as stakeholders they were confident was going to turn around the giant company’s fortunes.

“Cottco is a big company that requires someone with vast experience like Mr Mutenha to steer it to prosperity,” he said.

Another commentator from the group, Mr Justice Mupotsa welcomed Mr Mutenha’s appointment saying when he joined Cottco in 2006 he heard about Mr Mutenha’s unparalleled integrity and professionalism among other attributes.

“You stirred this ship before when cotton was still called white gold and I am confident your vast experience is what Cottco needs now. The Government must urgently render financial support to Cottco so that farmers are paid cash on delivery before farmers abandon the crop for the good of our economy,” he said.

Cottco is the largest contractor in the country. Last year 90, 1 million kilogrammes of seed cotton were produced and Cottco took delivery of 69, 2 million kilogrammes. In 2022, the company purchased 46, 7 million kilogrammes of seed cotton from a total national output of 56 million kilogrammes.

The Cottco weekly update report dated May 7 said the company had settled US$21 million in outstanding farmer payments with US$323 642 of that amount remaining uncollected despite several notices to farmers by mobile money platforms.

In a recent post-cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere revealed that Cottco had paid farmers’ outstanding payments amounting to US$2, 65 million and ZiG2, 8 million.

This year production is expected to be below last year’s as a result of the El Nino drought that affected both hectarage and productivity.

The second-round crop, livestock and fisheries assessment report (CLAFA-2) estimates that production will be around 40 221 tonnes.

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