Government has been urged to consider setting aside funds for irrigation of cotton in Masvingo Province in the 2018 budget with stakeholders saying the sector has the potential to produce more if supported.

The calls were made during the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation 2018 budget consultation meeting held in Masvingo.

Stakeholders in Masvingo gave their contributions on areas that need to be prioritised in next year’s budget among them the setting up of irrigation infrastructure for cotton farmers.

In the 2015/2016 summer cropping season a total of 1 353 tonnes of cotton were harvested in Masvingo and Manicaland combined, with officials highlighting that the tonnage increased to 15 540 in the 2016/2017 summer cropping season.

The stakeholders said if such tonnage could be obtained with farmers just relying on rains, more can be achieved with irrigation.

Other stakeholders said the budget should also prioritise putting more funds towards foot and mouth vaccines as the disease continues to derail the national herd stocking efforts.

The committee was also urged to look into farms that are being underutilised.

Committee chairperson, Cde Christopher Chitindi said high rentals on land use is a matter brought up by stakeholders in most of the provinces highlighting this will need to be looked into.

The budget consultations were being held countrywide, with Masvingo being the last stop.