by Sharon Tawuya
Harare (New Ziana)-At least 311 955 hectares of land were put under cotton this cropping season, largely as a result of government support to farmers through provision of agricultural inputs, an official has said.
The government introduced a number of farmer support programmes such as the Presidential Input Scheme and Pfumvudza/Intwasa through which farmers are given seed, fertilisers and chemicals for free, to boost production.
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe managing director Pious Manamike told New Ziana that the government intervention through the two schemes had boosted production of the “white gold”.
“The total area under cotton this year stands at 311 955 ha split as 61 903 ha under Pfumvudza/Intwasa and 250 052 ha under the Presidential Inputs Scheme,” he said.
He said the late onset of the rains had resulted in delays in planting, with a sizeable crop being established 1-2 months later than normal.
“Because of the late start of the rains the crop is at different stages with the bulk being 62 percent at 2-6 true leaves. All this was planted in January 2022,” he said.
Manamike said at least 10 percent of the crop was replanted after it was affected by excessive rains.
“Most of our crop was planted when the country was receiving a lot of rain and cotton being a crop that thrives under dry conditions, consequently some of it was affected by rotting and this necessitated replanting to the tune of 10 percent,” he said.
He said Cottco would venture into value addition of cotton with plans at an advanced stage to locate smaller ginneries at transit depots.
“The actual locations will be announced in due course but in the meantime we are looking at mobilising the required funding. We are also raising the required financial resources for the initial value addition projects,” he said.
Government has pegged the pre-planting cotton producer price at US63,23 per bale of the crop produced under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa scheme and US111,17 per bale funded through other means such as self funding.
Cotton farmers delivered 116 025 tons of the crop last year, up from 82 000 tons in 2020, as government support through subsidies and various inputs programs bear fruit.
The introduction of support and competitive prices have seen many farmers returning to grow cotton after having abandoned it in favour of other cash crops such as tobacco, whose marketing was orderly and prices were profitable.