Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
Cotton farmers have welcomed Government’s decision to provide them with tillage services for the forthcoming season, which will ensure that the target of more than 350 000 tonnes of cotton is met.
Thousands of farmers, particularly those in drought prone districts, lost draught power to drought and disease and do not have the cash to hire tractors. Farmers also noted that mechanical tillage usually leads to higher yields.
Announcing the programme during the launch of the Presidential Cotton Inputs and Tillage Scheme at Chinhoyi Cottco Depot recently, Cottco managing director Mr Pius Manamike said Cottco would provide free tillage services to farmers to boost output.
The farmers contracted under the inputs scheme are receiving enough seed, fertiliser and chemicals for 1ha of cotton and will also get tillage services for one hectare.
The launch was officiated by Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, who was accompanied by Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.
Cottco has already deployed 25 brand new tractors across the country, with Mashonaland West receiving six.
Government has so far provided another three tractors for the province while the Belarus mechanisation programme that seeks to add at least 3 000 new tractors to the country’s fleet, is expected to benefit cotton production and increase the current communal production of 280kg a hectare to 1 000kg a hectare.
“We envisage an increase in this year’s cotton production as we will be rolling out tillage services to all the farmers. Due to drought and January Disease, most farmers lost livestock including cattle that they used as draught power. As such, Cottco, in partnership with the Government, will be providing tillage services.
“This service seeks to help increase cotton production. This will help Chinhoyi’s 40 000 tonne high-capacity ginnery,” said Dr Masuka.
The future of the cotton industry is bright with sustainable funding arrangements and enhanced capacitation of farmers through irrigation development, provision of tractors and other implements through lease, rentals and outright purchase by farmers at favourable terms and conditions.
The Chinhoyi Ginnery, which is fed by cotton farmers in Makonde, Hurungwe and Zvimba districts tripled its potential processing to 10 000 tonnes for the last season from 3 500 tonnes in the 2018-2019 season.
Mr Manamike said the tillage service will be rolled out to commercial farmers and 80 000 war veterans earmarked to benefit from this year’s inputs distribution.