Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
COTTON farmers in Chipinge recorded high yields this season courtesy of the Presidential Inputs Scheme which enticed many to take up production of the white gold.
Farmers have been receiving free cotton inputs under the scheme as part of efforts to increase the country’s cotton production and revive the industry which had almost collapsed.
Traditionally, Gokwe was the major producer of the crop, but the industry had almost collapsed due to a myriad of challenges that included low prices, high cost of production and side marketing.
In recent years, the Lowveld has become a force to reckon with, as production of the white gold has been slowly increasing.
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) area manager at Checheche depot Mr Milton Manhando said the company’s Chiredzi business unit received the highest amount of cotton from farmers this season, compared to all other units across the country. “The Chiredzi business unit, which comprises Mutare, Birchenough, Checheche, Ngundu, Jerera and Chiredzi has so far received about 20 200 tonnes of cotton, the highest of all our units. And we are still receiving cotton from farmers,” he said.
“Checheche depot alone has bought 3 000 tonnes of cotton and we expect to reach about 3 400 tonnes by the time all cotton farmers complete harvesting their crop.”
Mr Manhando said the company bought 6 200 tonnes last season owing to a better rainy season, adding that this season’s yields could be attributed to the Cyclone Idai-induced rains which provided the much-needed moisture for the crop to thrive after a long dry spell.
He said 12 490 farmers in Checheche were registered under last season and there was expectation of an increase in the number of growers this season.
“We have approached farmers who received land from GreenFuel and most of them have expressed a desire to join cotton farming,” he said.
“The free Presidential inputs have also increased interest from the farmers.
“They have realised that if they receive free inputs, they can grow the crop and all proceeds are theirs to keep.”