Walter Nyamukondiwa and Conrad Mupesa in MHANGURA
Cotton farmers are expected to grow more than 250 000 metric tonnes of the white gold following an overwhelming response from farmers under the Presidential Cotton Inputs Scheme Support programme. At least 60 000 metric tonnes were produced last season.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Presidential Cotton Inputs Support Scheme registration, Zimbabwe Cotton Growers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi said there had been an overwhelming response from farmers this season.
“This year we have had a very high response from farmers in comparison to last season,” he said.
“Registration has almost doubled what we had last season because of the good cotton prices farmers for this year. The response and enthusiasm is overwhelming.”
In Mhangura, for instance, 22 groups of 50 farmers each were registered on the day of the launch at the weekend, while others had registered before. Takoma area contributed the highest number of those who registered.
Mr Mubonderi said preparations for distribution of the inputs were at an advanced stage compared to last season.
Speaking at the same event, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora urged cotton farmers to accept and use other forms of payment like mobile money for their produce to circumvent cash shortages. He said farmers should avoid side-marketing of financed cotton to companies that use cash as bait.
Some farmers who benefited under the Presidential Input Support Scheme are said to have sold the white gold to other companies and middlemen in the past two seasons.
This is despite getting support from the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO), which has since been taken over by Government, to distribute inputs and buy cotton from farmers.
“Farmers should reciprocate President RG Mugabe’s efforts in trying to economically empower them,” said Dr Mombeshora.
“They should desist from side-marketing the cotton which is distributed to them for free through the presidential input scheme. The nation is currently battling a cash crisis, hence the need to use plastic and mobile money; Government will soon bring to normalcy the 3-tier pricing menace.”
COTTCO head of operations Mr Maxmore Njanji, said campaigns to raise awareness among cotton farmers on cashless facilities would soon be rolled out.
He said the Agriculture Marketing Authority will be roped in to eradicate side-marketing. Incentives and bonus payments were recently employed to lure farmers to sell their cotton to COTTCO, which will witness gradual tonnage increase.
“Price adjustments have since been effected as bonus to the farmers at the end of every buying season, while Government’s 5 percent export incentive scheme is also given to farmers who sell their cotton to us,” Mr Njanji said.
Farmers are getting inputs for a hectare of land which include 20kg of seed, 100kg Compound L fertiliser, 50kg Ammonium Nitrate and pesticides under the Presidential Cotton Input Support Scheme.