Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) will this season engage farmers with irrigation schemes in a bid to boost production of the white gold in Chipinge.
The company has targeted an additional 500 hectares at Chipangai irrigation scheme, where farmers will receive inputs under the Presidential input scheme.
In an interview with The Herald, Cottco Checheche depot area manager Mr Milton Manhando said the irrigated crop would add to the rain-fed crop being produced.
“We have areas like Chipangai where there is water and potential for cotton,” he said. “We are planning to establish at least 500 hectares of irrigated crop there. Last year we did 26 hectares and they were successful.
“Although their crop suffered moisture stress when their pumps ceased working, it was resuscitated by rain water.”
Mr Manhando said farmers at Chipangai had since received new pumps from Brazil, which have been fitted and the irrigation scheme is ready for production.
“We are planning to start planting irrigated crop there on September 15,” he said.
“Irrigated crop has higher yield than dry land crop so that is how we are planning to utilise water that is underutilised there and in other irrigation schemes.”
Mr Manhando said the company had conducted trials with six cotton growers at Chinyamkwakwa irrigation scheme last year and the number had grown to 80 this season.
He said the company was working with another farmer in Munepasi area who has about 50 hectares and has installed a water pump system to irrigate his crop.
Mr Manhando said irrigated cotton has potential to revive the industry which had almost collapsed due to a myriad of challenges that affected farmers.
Manicaland has numerous water bodies with potential for irrigation schemes that are lying idle, which can be used for both cash crops and grains.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba last week said there was need to tap into the available water resources to ensure people do not go hungry, as was the case this season due to drought.