Elita Chikwati in Chiredzi
Chiredzi Business Unit farmers have established a cotton crop of 68 000 hectares against a target hectarage of 100 000 hectares. This is an 87 percent increase from the 37 000 hectares that had been established by farmers during the same period last year.
According to Cottco acting managing director Mr Pious Manamike, farmers could have surpassed the 67 000ha by now, but some growers were yet to plant due to erratic rains thus far. The farmers said they were still hopeful and in most parts of the Chiredzi Business Unit, the planting window was still open. Mr Manamike said some farmers had received seed and fertilisers, but had not yet planted as they were still waiting for the rains.
“We have many new farmers who are planting cotton under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme this year,” he said. “The farmers are eager to produce the crop following a successful season last year.
“This year, we have started a pilot project to assist cotton growers with tillage facilities through provision of tractors and ploughs. We are providing tillage equipment and farmers provide fuel.” Mr Manamike said the established cotton was in good condition, with the early planted crop now at flowering stage, while in other parts of the area it was at ball formation.
“The dry weather conditions have resulted in proliferation of mealybug which favours hot dry conditions,” he said. “Cottco has distributed chemicals to farmers for the control of the mealybug before it surpass economic threshold levels.” While some farmers in the Chiredzi Business Unit complained of erratic rains, others said the break in the rains necessitated weeding and spraying. The farmers said this season they received inputs early around mid October, and by the end of that month some had already dry planted. Jerera farmer, Mr Crispen Dube said he planted early and was still hopeful of a good season.
“The rains have been low and we are now utilising the break in rains to carry out other practices such as weeding and spraying,” he said.
“Last season, we had a challenge fighting pests due to heavy rains which would wash away the chemicals. We hope it will rain and we have a good quality crop that fetches good price on the market.” Chibwe farmers’ coordinator, Mrs Ruth Mukarati, said their area received inputs in September and they planted with the first rains.