385 000 benefit from cotton inputs
ABOUT 385 000 small scale farmers have benefited from free cotton inputs under the Presidential Input Scheme as the number of the beneficiaries doubled from last season.
Last year, The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe-which is administering the programme-distributed inputs to about 155 000 cotton growers, pushing the national production to about 75 000 tonnes from 28 000 tonnes produced a year earlier. Cottco managing director Mr Pious Manamike, said last Friday the company was currently disbursing the second tranche of inputs including chemicals and top dressing fertiliser.
“The disbursement of the first tranche of inputs being seed and basal fertiliser was completed early December 2017 with 90 percent having been done by 30 November and 100 percent done by the regulated deadline of 15 December for 385 000 farmers,” he said.
“Currently disbursing the second and final tranche of inputs being chemicals and top dressing fertiliser is ongoing.” Mr Manamike said the planting was completed all the catchment areas by December 31, 2017 as farmers utilised the early rains except for Checheche in Chipinge South in Manicaland Province, which received late rains.
“The crop is good throughout major cotton growing areas stages with the early planted crop at flowering stage,” said Mr Manamike adding saying the company was now in the process of working on the validation of the actual planted hectarage. The farmers in recently visited cotton growing areas commended Cottco for timely disbursements of inputs this season as this enabled them to plant using the early rains.
“It would have been a disaster if we had not planted using the first rains given the current dry spell. We managed to plant early because we received the inputs on time and our crop is doing very well,” said Ms Nyengetarai Maponga from Gokwe Nembudziya. She, however, said the only challenge many farmers were facing was slow distribution of chemicals.
“We have started receiving the chemicals but the distribution should be expedited because our crop is at a critical stage and needs to be well managed in terms of pests control.” Another farmer Romana Charakupa said the crop situation was satisfactory despite the dry spell.
But she was hoping the rains would come soon before the crop start suffering from moisture stress.
“Cotton is a drought resistant crop and so far it has not been affected by the current dry spell. We however hope that we receive the rains soon before the crop starts suffering from moisture stress,” she said. In Sanyati, the crop situation is equally good.
The farmers said had it not been timely distribution of inputs, which enabled them to plant early, it would been a bad year for cotton growers considering the prevailing dry spell. Cottco extension officers in Nembudziya and Sanyati expressed satisfaction with the crop situation.
“We have seen an improvement in crop management by most farmers.
“We have also seen farmers directing inputs to cotton production unlike in previous seasons were farmers would divert the inputs such as fertilisers to other crops. In addition, there was also little abuse of inputs and we are hoping the yields and the crop quality will be sbetter this season,” Sanyati central extension officer Mr Baureni said. Cotton used to be one of the country’s largest foreign currency earners before production slumped due to viability challenges resulting from inadequate funding and poor prices.