By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE has produced 140 000 tonnes of cotton owing to the presidential input support scheme which capacitated local farmers with resources to double their 2017 yield in 2018.
This was confirmed by Association of Value Adders of Zimbabwe (AVAZ) director, Admire Masenda while speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Business this week.
“Cotton output in the 2018 marketing season rose to 140 000 tonnes, from 70 000 tonnes last year, owing to increased government support to farmers.
“The quantities have not been achieved for over half a decade and this is just a spectacular development in the sector’s history,” he said.
The yield could earn the country almost US$85 million dollars in foreign exchange through exports this year as the nation has managed to produce more than enough.
The presidential input scheme has been providing maize, cotton and sorghum inputs to farmers across the country.
For cotton, 400 000 households were targeted, with each beneficiary getting 20kgs cotton seed, two bags Compound L and one bag to top dressing fertiliser as well as chemicals for pests and disease control.
However, Masenda urged government to put in place mechanisms that ensure that farmers use the support given productively.
“So moving forward, we urge the government to change its support structure and desist from the current format which just gives out inputs without any systems in place to make sure that the farmers deliver.
“My suggestion is that there is need to offer incentives to cotton farmers after they produce as this becomes sustainable in the long run,” he said.
Cotton produced in the country has a huge demand and is ranked third best globally due to its high quality.
The crop remains strategic for the Southern African country considering that it is one of the major foreign currency earners in the agriculture sector after tobacco and sugar and a source of livelihoods for over 250 000 houses mainly in drier parts of the country.