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 the company would provide free tillage services to farmers to boost output.
The farmers contracted under the inputs scheme are receiving seed, fertiliser and chemicals enough for 1ha of cotton. They 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.
“We are calling on war veterans structures to provide us with names of members interested in joining this year’s cotton production. We are targeting 80 000 (people) across the nation and these will also benefit from the tillage services that we are also rolling out,” he said.
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi said the tillage service demonstrates the commitment of the Second Republic in economically uplifting Zimbabweans farmers in line with Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.
Speaking after receiving their inputs, farmers drawn from all the seven cotton producing districts of the province thanked the Government.
“We are very happy about the tillage programme as this will help improve cotton production. Although we didn’t face challenges of January Disease, we envisage high cotton production yields this year as mechanical farming is better, as compared to animal draught power,” said Mr Stewart Chabikwa from Zvipani in Hurungwe district.
Mr Admire Nhenge from Mhondoro-Mubaira said he lost all his cattle due to January Disease and the move by Government and Cottco was commendable as it will help him prepare for this season.
Superfert Fertiliser marketing director Ms Nelly Chamboko, whose company has been supplying fertiliser to cotton farmers under the scheme, expressed readiness in meeting the demand in time.
She said all the basal and ammonium nitrate fertilisers were in stock ahead of delivery to farmers.
Apart from getting tillage services for one hectare, farmers are also expected to receive 20kg cotton seed, 100kg basal fertiliser, 50kg of ammonium nitrate, a knapsack sprayer and chemicals worth US$200.
Over 400 000 households are targeted under the scheme.