THE Cotton Company of Zimbabwe is looking at introducing hybrid seed varieties with high yield potential compared to current non-hybrid varieties, in a development that will further boost the country’s cotton production, an official has said.
The programme, which will be rolled out in partnership with Quton, a local seed breeding firm, will see yield potential of about 20-30 percent higher than non–hybrid seeds.
“Through our partner Quton, we now have hybrids that improve quantity and quality,” Cottco agronomist Mr Collin Nyawenze told farmers at a stakeholder meeting in Gokwe last week.
“With these new varieties, yields will significantly increase.”
Cottco and Quton have already conducted trails in Muzarabani and Mushumbi Pools in Mashonaland Central Province and the outcome had been “very positive”.
Zimbabwe’s cotton industry has been recovering since 2016 after Government intervened through the Presidential Free Inputs Scheme. Production increased from 28 000 tonnes in 2015, the lowest in nearly two decades to 142 000 tonnes last year.
At peak, the country produced 350 000 tonnes of raw cotton in 2011.
A validation exercise to ascertain projected output for this year is ongoing, but dry spells experienced in most parts of the country last season will negatively affect yields.
“As of 2018/19 season, it was a drought season but we are making a solid promise to you (farmers) that we are not tiring because of this setback that we experienced.
“We are coming back again as usual to continue supporting the farmers.
“However, farmers should know that the President is the one giving us these inputs and the only way to thank him is through selling to Cottco,” said Mr Nyawenze.
He noted with concern the continued abuse of inputs, urging farmers to desist from such practice.
“We are facing a challenge of diversion of inputs especially fertilisers where it is being sold in Mbare, Gokwe, Kadoma. Others are applying the fertiliser on other crops.”
Meanwhile, farmers urged Cottco to timeously pay for delivered crop to cushion them from value erosion due to inflation.
Mr Patrick Muzokomba, a farmer in Gokwe said:
“Payments should be done faster as we are in a highly volatile economic environment. If they do this, even selling cotton to other players will be curbed.”
The 2018 cotton marketing season officially started yesterday. Farmers will be paid cash amounting to US$10, RTGS$150 while the remainder will be transferred in mobile or bank accounts for at least 200kg delivered, according to Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Steward Mubonderi.
Farmers will be paid US$5 and RTGS $150 for a delivery of between 150kg and 199kg while the remainder will be deposited into mobile or bank accounts.
For a delivery of less than 150kg, the farmers will be paid cash of RTGS $150.
“The producer price of cotton has been raised from 47cents to $1,95 per kg.
“This price is not inclusive of the 10 percent export incentive bonus to be added,” said Mr Mubonderi.
“This shows that our Government knows the importance of cotton in the country.
“To deal with forex challenges, cotton has been given higher priority hence the urge to increase and promote its production through giving free inputs through Cottco.”