Communal farmers in cotton farming say they have got the potential to produce more if they are capacitated.

Despite being a communal farmer, who uses traditional methods of farming for the past 30 years, Mr Ranganai Muzivirwa and his family have been surviving on growing cotton.

Muzivirwa said they started in Zaka and they moved to Chiredzi after being allocated 3.5 hectares of land under the land reform programme.

After winning several awards as the best farmer at district level, he has this year clinched the top position out of more than 400 000 cotton farmers countrywide after producing more than 60 bales which translate into 13,2 tonnes of cotton from his 13,5 hectares of land.

His community felt motivated and celebrated with him when he was awarded a tractor and other monetary prizes.

Mr Muzivirwa said communal farmers have got potential to produce more that can help the country surpass its target if they are fully capacitated with irrigation facilities, inputs and proper training on best practices of cotton farming.

“As communal farmers, we are committed to our work because we survive on cotton farming. However, we struggle to achieve that sometimes due to lack of support. Currently, though we receive inputs from the government, it is important that we get them in time. We need to be trained on how to properly prepare our fields and other sustainable methods of cotton farming,” he said.

Chiredzi Business Unit Manager, Mr Munyaradzi Chikasha said farmers must work together with their field officers and utilise free inputs they are given by the government through the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO) that they get better yield.

“COTTCO will continue to support you and offer knowledge on sustainable ways of producing the white gold. However, you need to work together with your field officers that you are properly guided,” he said.

Chiredzi District Administrator, Mr Lovemore Chisema said the government is working towards reviving the cotton industry including the textile sector to its former glory and Chiredzi district is set to benefit immensely given the devolution of power concept that was adopted.

In Chiredzi, only over 80 000 farmers were contracted by COTTCO last season and they produced 35000 tonnes of cotton surpassing their target of 25000 tonnes, a clear indication that the crop continues on a growth trajectory in the lowveld.