Zim eyes cotton output rebound

Mike Tome and Panashe Chikonyora
Zimbabwe’s largest cotton producer, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco), is expecting much better yields next season after the company secured substantial funding for inputs procurement, managing director Mr Pious Manamike said last week.

The company is also introducing a hybrid variety to cover 10 000 hectares with potential of boosting yields from an average of 500 kg to a minimum of 7 000 kg per hectare.

Cotton production slumped 43 percent this year to 80 000 tonnes from 142 000 tonnes last year due to a severe drought that also affected other crops such as maize.

This was the first cotton output decline in three seasons following successive increase in production from 28 000 tonnes in 2015, the lowest output in nearly two decades.

The increase in production was largely driven by the Presidential Free Inputs Programme, which has over the past four years saw about 400 000 households benefiting.

In an interview with Capitalk FM last Friday Mr Manamike, said the preparations for the next season were at an advanced stage and the company was looking for a better season.

“In terms of preparations, we have done very well. The funding was well prepared by Government (and) we have secured enough funding to cover 400 000 ha,” said Mr Manamike.

In light of climate change, Mr Manamike said the company was putting in place measures to mitigate negative effects, which heavily impacted on production last season.

“Unfortunately climate change is here and it is manifesting itself in various forms, in the previous two years it manifested itself as a too much rainfall which affected our production negatively and this past season it has come in as a drought and it really affected our production.

“Normally cotton is a drought resistant crop, but when you find that cotton got affected by drought, it means that the drought was very severe.”

Speaking at the launch of cotton input scheme in Mwenezi last Saturday, Cottco operations manager Munyaradzi Chikasha, said inputs distribution was at an advanced stage.

“I would say we are moving seed to the common distribution points, so the process is ongoing and we hope in the next week or so we should have resourced all our units with enough seed ready for the planting season,” he told a stakeholder meeting.

“We have moved over 50 percent of compound L, which is a basic requirement at planting to most of our units, so we are ready for the start of our planting season.

Mr Chikasha also indicated that Cottco was much aware of the critical need of tillage equipment following devastating drought and diseases around the country.

“We lost draught power due to some diseases and poor pastures around the country especially in the Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East Provinces mainly due to diseases.

“As a result, we have taken our tractors to various areas in the affected provinces to help our farmers and we are starting with the most vulnerable,” said Mr Chikasha.

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