Zimbabwe's cotton crop prices are expected to take another fall in the 2014 harvest after having cut by more than half in 2013, according to renowned economist John Robertson
According to Zimbabwe-born Robertson, the Zimbabwe government has refused the right to a controlling interest in a business that was to generate genetically modified (GM) cotton seed.
"The promoting company, Monsato, was refused permission to market its GM seed for cotton and everything else in Zimbabwe," Robertson said.
Robertson noted that GM cotton seed has been adopted by all other cotton growing countries as it considerably reduces the need for pesticides, which previously constituted the biggest expense faced by cotton growers.
It has been reported that since then that all other cotton growers have incurred lower production costs and their growers are generating better returns and are still profitable, despite the world cotton prices falling.
"Zimbabweans have to continue producing at higher cost and have been disappointed by the prices paid by contract buyers," Robertson said.
Robertson added that the Zimbabwean authorities needed to authorise the use of GM cotton seed. He said the as yet unproved claims that the use of GM seed for food crops might pose health risks in the future do not apply to cotton as it is not consumed.
"The cotton seed oil produced has to be refined before use for human consumption and that process produces a pure oil that passes all the tests," he said.
Robertson said that by insisting that Zimbabwe's cotton growers should not be permitted to keep pace with technological changes, the authorities were putting the country's entire cotton production and textile industry at risk of failure. He said in excess of 100,000 formal and informal job could be lost as a result of the declining profits in the country's cotton sector.