By admin       2019-04-30

THE Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) plans to put a minimum of 100 000 hectares across the country under commercial cotton farming with the sector poised to generate a minimum of US$1 billion annually.Speaking during the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Cottco managing director Mr Pious Manamike said given the climate change being experienced, his organisation would now move a gear up and start concentrating on large scale estates or commercial farming of cotton.“In this regard we are cropping up large tracts of virgin land in Mashonaland Central, Kanyemba area (along the Zambezi Valley), Masvingo, and also large tracts of land in Matabeleland North in Binga area. “We are looking to get a minimum of 100 000ha that should be irrigated and that should be able to anchor production to support the value chain within the cotton to clothing sector that we want to support.“This means we can have a cotton industry that can generate a minimum of US$1 billion annually if we go along the entire value chain in the cotton production,” he said. The intensification of cotton farming in Matabeleland comes at a time when production of the white gold is on the rise in the region with a number of farmers especially in Matabeleland North taking up the crop owing to its drought resistant nature and lucrative price. However, some new farmers were almost giving up after watching their crop fail under the long dry spell that characterised the 2018-2019 farming season. A total of 7 560 hectares had been put under the crop in Matabeleland North province, an increase of 204 hectares from the 2017-2018 season in the province.In Zimbabwe, cotton is largely grown in Mashonaland West, the Midlands, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central provinces while in Matabeleland North only Binga district has over the years commercially grown the crop. Other parts of the province such as Lupane, Tsholotsho and Bubi intensified cotton farming in the last two years. Last year, Government introduced cotton growing at the Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme in Binga and had earmarked 100 hectares for planting. Only 75 hectares was finally planted and it all succumbed to the dry spell.Matabeleland North and South fall under region four and five where rainfall is low and periodic seasonal droughts and severe dry spells during the summer season are experienced. Such climatic conditions are ideal for cotton production. Speaking during a tour of Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation project by Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga in Binga last week, an official from Cottco said plans were underway to increase production both in Matabeleland North and South.“We want to intensify cotton growing in Matabeleland North and South. We wanted to do cotton growing under irrigation here to improve yields knowing that we can get more than two tonnes per hectare under irrigation. We wanted 100 hectares but managed to plant 75 hectares of rain fed cotton,” said the official. “We’re still very confident that cotton can be grown in this area and we will make sure it’s done.”Matabeleland North irrigation officer Mr Charles Makhula said work was underway to capacitate the irrigation scheme, which has been failing to fully operationalise because of technical hitches.Over the last 50 years, Cottco has managed to produce 250 000 tonnes of the white gold using communal farmers. It is hoped that the figure will exponentially rise through the planned commercial farming programme across the country.

Download App

# #

Member Login