By Tafara Chikumira
Agriculture experts are expecting a 20 percent increase in cotton yields in Gokwe this season, after government’s climate proof Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme boosted farmers’ maximum yield per hectare.
The cotton crop, which is at budding stage, is showing a good bill of health with each hectare holding an estimate of five thousand plants per hectare as opposed to an average of 3 500 plants per hectare on ox-drawn planted areas.
Although this season farmers in Gokwe put around 52 000 hectares under cotton, a low figure when compared to 67 000 last year, COTTCO is still confident of a good harvest.
Mr Josiah Baure, the COTTCO senior business manager said: “In the initial season the rains did not do well and as such some farmers lost their crop. However, the rains are back on and most farmers had to replant and since most of the plants are showing good signs and we are anticipating to harvest an average of 661 kgs from Pfumvudza and as such, we are looking at 25 000 tonnes as opposed to 19 000 tonnes we got last season.”
Farmers are grateful to government for the timely disbursement of inputs, with hopes high that they will get good returns from their efforts.
“It is great that government came on board to save this crop. This Pfumvudza project has resulted in change of fortunes for the way we have been farming cotton. The way this crop is growing can tell you that it can eventually reach my arms. We are anticipating each crop to have as many as 100 to 150 balls which is a marked improvement indeed,” one of the cotton farmers in the area said.
Another noted: “All along we used to farm without enough inputs. However, this time around we have all we need that is from fertilisers to inputs. We used to be afraid to take loans, but now its game on. The idea of digging holes also means that we are now doing things perfectly as compared to the way we used to do farming before.”
Government introduced the climate proof Pfumvudza/ Intwasa cotton farming this season as a way to preserve and revive production of the white gold after the same concept reaped huge results in maize and traditional crops.