The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) has completed field trials after two years of conducting trials with hybrid cotton seeds, targeted at boosting cotton output to 504 000 metric tonnes per year from the current 140 000 valued at $2 billion.

The development comes as farmers are gearing for the start of the 2019 cotton selling season.

Speaking at a field day in Muzarabani, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Cde Douglas Karoro said government is committed to the success of cotton growers and will continue supporting them under the Presidential Inputs Programme.

“We did our computations with the MD and we saw that through the new hybrid seed Zimbabwe can earn $2 billion from the current $100 million,” he said.

Cottco Managing Director Pious Manamike said despite the drought the hybrid seeds had improved yields to an average of 10 000 kilogrammes per hectare from around 200 kilogrammes per hectare.

“The first phase was to get 400 000 farmers and we have reached 5 point. The second phase is to improve yields in terms of plant population and boll count. This seed performed well in a drought year, it’s been averaging 80 bolls per plant which means a farmer can earn up to $11 000,” Mr Manamike said.

The Cotton Producers and Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (CPMAZ) bemoaned the conduct of the Agriculture Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe (AMA) for delaying inspections of farmers’ bales and inclusion of non-existent farmers in its database of cotton growers.

“We have a problem with AMA, they hold onto a farmer’s bales for a month saying we are inspecting them,” said Mashonaland Central CPMAZ chairman Demusochi Mazarura.

The Muzarabani district is one of the hubs of cotton production in Zimbabwe with at least 52 000 growers of the white gold.