Cotton farmers in Hurungwe who planted early have started harvesting the crop, and have expressed hope prices for the commodity would be attractive.
The crop is Zimbabwe’s second biggest agricultural export after tobacco, and is mainly grown in drier regions of the country.
But a combination of lack of funding and poor prices in recent years had crippled cotton production, resulting in sharp output falls.
However, Government has now resumed input support to farmers, and as a result output has picked up, particularly in the last two years.
Last season, the country produced 73 000 tonnes of cotton.
Only farmers who planted early had started harvesting in Hurungwe, with much of the crop yet to ripen.
“We have already started picking cotton. We need to take advantage of the lockdown as school children are not going to school so that they can assist us in picking. We hire other children from our neighbours who can assist us and we will pay them after we have sold our produce,” Zhanero, a prominent cotton farmer in the area, said.
“Some farmers have shifted to tobacco farming. I did not stop cotton production, it is not a simple crop because the crop needs extensive pest control and weed management. The advantage is that inputs are being given for free by both government and other companies.
“Cotton does not need a farmer to go to Harare because most of the companies have satellite branches in rural areas and there are no transport costs since we can use our schotchcarts,” she added.
Last year, the crop was priced at $1950 per tonne, which was attractive. This year’s price is yet to be set. — New Ziana.