Nearly 325 000 cotton growers have received inputs under the Government’s Free Inputs Scheme meant to help vulnerable communities and prop up production.
The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, which is administering the programme said 324 517 farmers had already received some inputs — out of the targeted 400 000 farmers.
The package of the inputs include seed, basal and top dressing fertilisers as well as chemicals.
“We have progressed very well in terms of distributing the inputs and we are within our targets,” Cottco operations manager Ms Marjorie Chaniwa told The Herald Business.
“The criteria is to give preference to farmers who benefited last season and delivered the produce. Last season, we had situations where growers received inputs and used them on other crops while others sold the produce to other companies.”
Last week, the Government came up with regulations to curb the side marketing of agricultural commodities produced under its various contract farming programmes.
The Agriculture Marketing Authority (Command Agriculture Scheme for Domestic Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Production) Regulations of 2018, gazetted last Friday also seeks to deal with abuse of agricultural inputs given to the farmers.
This is in relation to diversion of inputs towards production of other crops not contracted. In addition, the regulations make it an offence to withhold the produce after harvest.
Ms Chaniwa said the timely disbursements of the inputs would help farmers to plant on time.
“As we continue work on boosting output, we also want to enhance productivity and crop quality,” she said.
In Chiredzi, 96 percent of registered farmers have received the inputs, 78 percent in Gokwe, 85 percent in Sanyati, 98 percent in Zambezi Valley, 78 percent in Chinhoyi and Kadoma and 65 percent in Mutoko. The free inputs programme is for the third year running and has boosted production from about 28 000 tonnes in 2016, the lowest in nearly two decades to 142 000 tonnes last year.
Cottco’s contribution to last year’s national yield was around 128 000 tonnes.
“We are winding up the movement of seed (raw) cotton from the buying points and we have moved about 125 000 tonnes, leaving a balance of only 3 000 tonnes which we should clear in the next two weeks,” said Ms Chaniwa.
Cottco is also targeting new farmers in areas where growers had abandoned the crop due to lack of adequate funding by private companies as well as poor prices.
The company recently held stakeholder meetings in Chinhoyi and Kadoma meant to encourage farmers to take up production as it targets to increase the
The catchment of Chinhoyi and Kadoma used to be major cotton growing areas. The company is also reviving cotton production in areas around Mutoko.