The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe – which administers Government’s cotton inputs scheme – is putting in place measures to improve productivity and quality as it seeks to have the country reclaim its status as of one of the world’s top quality producers.
After significantly increasing production during the past three seasons—thanks to the Presidential Free Inputs Scheme – Cottco said it was now placing more emphasis on boosting productivity to further grow volumes and improve quality.
Zimbabwe’s cotton production plummeted to 28 000 tonnes in the 2015 /16 season, the lowest in nearly two decades, but output bounced back with national deliveries reaching 142 000 tonnes last year.
Of this, 127 000 tonnes were grown under the Presidential Inputs Scheme, partly meant to help vulnerable communities.
This was up from 74 000 tonnes produced during the previous season. A validation exercise is still underway to determine potential production for this year.
The Government’s inputs package includes basal and top dressing fertilisers, seed and chemicals.
“We are urging our farmers to constantly seek guidance from our field officers for good farming practices because we want to see an improvement in productivity (yield per unit area) and quality,” Ms Marjorie Chaniwa, Cottco operations manager told farmers at a prize giving ceremony in Zhomba, Gokwe North District on Tuesday.
“We want to get back to the levels where Zimbabwe used to be among top producers of top cotton quality in the world. This can be achieved through your hard work.”
Cottco re-introduced cotton grower of the year awards as a way of motivating farmers to improve productivity and quality. In Gokwe, three farmers walked away with prizes.
Mr Edson Kadungwe, of Zhomba, also known as Chitekete, from Kamakuyu Village came out first and received a motorbike, one hectare inputs package comprising of fertilisers, seed and chemicals as well as some protective clothing. Mr Kadungwe also came out number three at national level.
Cotton farmer Mr Edson Kadungwe, from Zhomba in Gokwe North, receives a motorbike after winning the Cottco Grower of the Year award in the district. With him is Cottco operations manager Ms Marjorie Chaniwa.
The first runner up, Mr Francis Meki from Nemangwe won a wheel borough, bicycle, work suit and inputs while the second runner up, Mr Melusi Chanungwa from Manoti won a bicycle, inputs and a work suit.
According to Cottco’s criteria for choosing winners, 70 percent of the total score was field-based while the reminder was based on what the farmer would have scored at the Harare Agricultural Show.
Giving testimony at the ceremony, Mr Kadungwe said by scooping the third price at national level meant he could also become first in the next competition.
“That is my target and I am working towards that,” he said. Speaking at the same event, Gokwe North district administrator Mr Isaac Mutambara urged farmers to desist from side marketing and inputs abuse.
“This programme has improved the livelihoods; it has created jobs,” he said. “So I encourage the beneficiaries of this programme to desist from side marketing and inputs abuse as this is tantamount to economic sabotage.
He said the competition should motivate other farmers to correctly use the inputs and become more productive.
He also urged youths and women to take advantage of the programme to empower themselves.